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Government's 'Test, Track, And Trace' App Will Be Active UK-Wide By Mid-May

Government's 'Test, Track, And Trace' App Will Be Active UK-Wide By Mid-May

Matt Hancock announced that tests will begin on the Isle of Wight tomorrow

Tom Wood

Tom Wood

The Government hopes to roll out the 'test, track, and trace' system across the whole of the United Kingdom by the middle of May, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said in today's coronavirus daily briefing.

The system - which will begin testing on the Isle of Wight on Tuesday - involves contact tracing and tracking via a smartphone app upon which people who have developed symptoms of Covid-19 can register that.

The phone app will then use 'proximity information' logged securely on the devices, and Bluetooth signal to register people's interactions, in order to trace any contacts that the symptomatic person may have been involved in.

In a twist on his usual slogan, Hancock urged the people within the testing area of the Isle of Wight to: "Stay at home, install the app, protect the NHS and save lives."

Health Secretary Matt Hancock.

Hancock added that this new system will allow officials to take a more 'targeted approach' to the conditions of the lockdown whilst the fight against the virus moves to a new phase after the peak.

Basically, the technology behind the app uses Bluetooth signals sent between two people's phones to establish connections, then if one person involved in that interaction develops symptoms, the other parties that they've been in contact with is alerted to that and can also isolate.

Hancock went on to say that the government will look to roll the system out across the entirety of the UK in the 'middle of this month' and said that 'thousands' of recruits have so far signed up as tracers.

The goal of the app, he said, is to 'help us to keep the R number down' - the rate of further infection from each infected person, but 'the goal is to keep the number of new infections down'.

He continued: "Our goal is not simply to flatten the curve - it is to get the occurrence of infections very low."

The Health Secretary confirmed in today's daily briefing that the number of deaths in the 24 hours leading up to Monday morning was 288, which is the lowest number of deaths 'since the beginning of March'.

Tests will start on the Isle of Wight tomorrow.

Yesterday, a report said that the government's plan to use this contact tracing app must satisfy data protection and human rights laws if it is to go ahead.

The report, which was published as a legal opinion, said that this proposed system would result in 'significantly greater interference with users' privacy and require greater justification'.

The lawyers behind the report wrote: "A mandatory smartphone app would be a significant measure, both legally and culturally.

"Our view is that there would need to be a clear and detailed legal basis for a mandatory system, set out in specific legislation."

They continued: "Given the nature of the data likely to be shared, the government will need to undertake a data protection impact assessment (DPIA) prior to the processing of any personal data.

"The results of that DPIA should be made public. Those steps may be in progress, but we are not aware of them having been completed thus far."

Featured Image Credit: PA

Topics: UK News