NHS Covid-19 app launches

PEOPLE in Tameside are being urged to download the NHS COVID-19 app to help control the spread of coronavirus and protect themselves and their loved ones as case numbers rise.

After positive trials and rigorous testing, the app is an important new tool to work alongside traditional contact tracing to help reduce the spread of the virus.It will be available to those aged 16 and over in multiple languages. It forms a central part of the NHS Test and Trace service in England identifying contacts of those who have tested positive for coronavirus.

As part of a major campaign to encourage downloads of the app, a new advertisement has launched on primetime TV with the strapline ‘Protect your loved ones. Get the app.’

The UK’s major mobile network operators, including Vodafone, Three, EE and O2, Sky and Virgin, have confirmed that all in-app activity will not come out of customers’ data allowance.

The contact tracing element of the app works by using low-energy Bluetooth to log the amount of time someone spends near other app users, and the distance between you, so it can alert if someone they have been close to later tests positive for COVID-19 – even if they don’t know each other.

The app will advise an individual to self-isolate if they have been in close contact with a confirmed case. It will also enable users to check symptoms, book a free test if needed and get their test results.

The app has been designed with user privacy in mind, so it tracks the virus not people, and uses the latest in data security technology to protect privacy. The system generates a random ID for an individual’s device, which can be exchanged between devices via Bluetooth (not GPS). These unique random IDs regenerate frequently to add an extra layer of security and preserve anonymity.

Cllr Eleanor Wills, Tameside Council executive member for Adult Social Care and Population Health, said: “This is a vital time in our fight against the virus and we all need to do as much as we can to protect our local community. The newly-launched NHS COVID-19 app will be an essential tool and I urge residents who can to download it as soon as possible to further protect your friends and family from coronavirus.”

The app does not hold personal information such as name, address or date of birth, and only requires the first half of a postcode to ensure local outbreaks can be managed. No personal data is shared with the government or the NHS.

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