From today, Thursday 24 September, the NHS COVID-19 app is available for use in England and Wales. The app, which is free to download from the App Store or Google Play, has been developed by a dedicated team of NHS scientists, data specialists, developers and health experts, in partnership with Google and Apple.
The app allows people to report symptoms, order a coronavirus test, check in to venues by scanning a QR code and it helps the NHS trace individuals that may have coronavirus.
When registering, app users are asked for their postcode district and this is shared with the NHS so that they can alert users if their area has become high risk for coronavirus.
The app uses the existing “Exposure Logging” feature on a person’s smartphone to work out if they have spent time near other app users who have tested positive for coronavirus. For this to work the phone’s Bluetooth needs to be turned on.
Another key feature is that the app allows people to record a visit at a venue by “checking-in” on arrival. This can be done by scanning the venue’s unique QR code, which will be located on a poster within the premises.
The app then records the time a person spends at the venue without recording any personal information. If someone has recently visited a venue where they may have come into contact with someone who has coronavirus, they will receive an alert containing official NHS advice on what to do next.
Solihull Council has been working with businesses and venues to help them download the QR code posters and make them readily available for people to scan using the Test and Trace app when they visit.
From today certain venues, including hospitality, close contact services, leisure venues and those run by local authorities are legally required to display NHS QR posters in their venues. For further details on the announcement please see here.
Further information on the app, how it protects the privacy of individuals and how it works can be found here.
If you are local business or venue and require a QR code poster please visit this website.
Councillor Ian Courts, Leader of Solihull Council has said:
“Each of us has a part to play in stopping the spread of the virus and stabilising the rates of infection in our community and beyond. The app is another weapon in our armoury we can utilise to do this.
“Downloading the NHS COVID-19 app will help us all to protect the NHS by reducing the spread of coronavirus.
“The main thing each of us can do is minimise contact with other people - remember hands, face and space. More importantly, if you develop any of the coronavirus symptoms (a temperature, a new continuous cough, or a loss of taste/ smell), self-isolate and request a test.”
Ruth Tennant, Director of Public Health, Solihull Council:
“If you choose to download the app it will help us find out more quickly if and where we’re at risk of the virus spreading, so we can take immediate action to protect our communities.
“We know that app contact tracing reduces the time it takes to alert those who you have been in close contact with and whilst this will not cure the virus, it is a useful tool at our disposal to help reduce the transmission and therefore the spread of the virus.”