Contact-Tracing App Has Only Sent One Alert About A Coronavirus Venue Outbreak
Many people have downloaded the new NHS contact-tracing app, but it's been revealed that only one alert has been sent out about an outbreak in a venue - despite the government potentially closing bars and pubs.
Sky News reported that although there have been millions of check-ins across the country, this lone venue notification is leading to questions being raised about the app's effectiveness.
It has been revealed there were a total of four alerts about outbreaks, but three of them expired before the app was launched and available.
The app does not however name the specific venue where the outbreak occurred. It tells users: "We are letting you know that you may have been exposed to coronavirus when you were out.
"Although there is only a small risk that you have been infected during your visit, please continue to follow the latest advice on social distancing."
Speaking to Sky News, shadow digital minister Chi Onwurah said: "On the one hand, at a government briefing on local data I'm told pubs are the primary location for common Covid exposure, on the other that the contact-tracing app has only sent out one alert about an outbreak in a venue.
"There is a plain contradiction there and ministers need to get a grip."
The Department of Health defended the app saying that it is an 'important' tool in the fight against coronavirus.
A spokesperson told Sky News: "The NHS Covid-App is an important public health tool, downloaded more than 16 million times, which is helping to stop the spread of this virus.
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"Alongside the app's contact tracing features, the QR code check-in system performs a number of important functions, not least providing a digital diary for users to prompt them as to who they have been with should they test positive.
"If Heath Protection Teams believe a venue is linked to an outbreak they may send a 'warn and inform' message to app users who attended the venue at a similar time based on when they checked in."
The app has been 'substantially rebuilt' from the version first tested on the Isle of Wight in May, having been given two significant changes.
The first is a 'new underpinning', which is based on a framework created by Apple and Google and allows the app to work in a 'decentralised' manner - meaning little data is shared with the NHS about the user's movements.
Secondly, the app also features a new check-in function so that users are able to register themselves at public places like pubs, hairdressers and restaurants, so that anyone exposed to a localised outbreak can be tracked down.
The app is free to download from the App Store or Google Play (it is available for anyone aged 16 or over, in multiple languages), and after being installed will notify you if you've been in close contact with someone who later tests positive for the virus.
It uses Bluetooth technology to keep an anonymous log of people with whom users have come into close proximity. If someone becomes ill, they're able to tell the app, which in turn will notify others by sending out an automatic notification along with further guidance.
Featured Image Credit: PA
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