The Isle of Wight is once again being asked to trial the NHS’ coronavirus test and trace app, which is said to now be ‘new and improved’.
Over the coming days, starting from tomorrow (Friday), Islanders will receive a unique code through the post which will enable them to download the app, preventing people from other parts of the country being involved in the trial. However, the app will also be tested in an urban area, as well as with emergency workers.
Although the app looks similar to the previous one, the technology behind it has changed – in part because of what has been learnt from the previous test – and it has many more functions. As part of the app’s new capabilities, QR codes can be used by businesses to help customers sign in.
Over 54,000 Islanders are said to have downloaded the original mobile app throughout May following a massive campaign. But question marks were soon raised when it became clear hardly anyone was receiving alerts and then the app was not updated when the list of symptoms was expanded.
It is now known that issues with Apple’s iPhone models could not be overcome, which has led to a Google/Apple alternative app being released today (Thursday). Reassurances have been given that the new app works with iPhones running iOS 13.5+ and Android 6+.
- Key features of the app include:
- Get Notified – find out when you’ve been near other app users
- Check into Venues – check it places like bars and restaurants with the QR code scanner, without having to fill out forms
- Check your Symptoms – check to see if your symptoms could be coronavirus
- Isolation Countdown – keep track of how many days are left of your isolation period
- Risk Level – the app tells you the risk level in your postcode area
Isle of Wight MP Bob Seely has said:
“The Island has again been asked to help trial the Trace and Test App. We’ve been asked specifically because of the very strong community support last time, which has been recognised by the Government. They have come back to ask for our support again. Much of the feedback that Islanders previously gave has been incorporated into the new app.
“I am hoping very much that we can support this improved version as much as we did the previous version. We are doing this for the same reason we did it the first time around. Firstly, it helps protect Islanders. Secondly, as visitors come back to the Island it will help protect both them and us. Third, because it is good for our nation.
“You’ll get alerted if you have been near other app users who have tested positive for the virus, or in venues in which there has been infections. It will ask how you are and give advice.
“As part of the app’s capabilities, QR codes – the square matrix barcode – can be used by businesses to help customers sign in. This will give us all extra confidence that a test and trace system will enable us to get back to normal life whilst being considerate to others and thoughtful of our health.
“I am asking all businesses – and especially those in the hospitality and visitor sector – to download and advertise the QR Code.
“Next steps will include getting visitors signed up as well. I know that Visit Isle of Wight has also very sensibly suggested that the ferries should also use the QR codes. I will be following this up with them.
“More broadly, in the coming months we will move from coming out of generalised lockdown to a system whereby we protect specific groups more whilst enabling others to get back to a greater sense of normality.
“We need to get back to a position where people can get on with their lives whilst doing our best to suppress the virus and protect the most vulnerable. The app, and the test and trace scheme, is the best way of getting back to doing the things we love.”
Islanders are reassured that personal data does not leave the device – unless you allow it to – and users control their data. The app does not track GPS location and does not access other things on your phone, such as your address book.
The trial comes ahead of a potential nationwide launch later this year.
For more information and to download the app visit covid19.nhs.uk
Credit: Island Echo