COVID-19 smartphone app launches in England and Wales

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England and Wales launched an app for tracking and tracing the coronavirus on Thursday, September 24, BBC News reports.

The NHS COVID-19 app is available for smartphones running Android 6.0 or iOS 13.5 and Bluetooth 4.0 or higher. It is not available for tablets or other devices.

It can be downloaded from the Google Play or Apple's App Store.

When two phones running the app are close to each other, they exchange anonymous Bluetooth keys. The distance and duration of the contact is measured in five-minute intervals.

The NHS app will regularly check a database of anonymous keys for nearby positive tests. If someone tests positive, they will be given a unique PIN which they can enter into their phone to register the test result. If an app user is assessed as having been in a "high-risk encounter" with someone who tested positive, they will be notified and asked to self-isolate.

However, the system is not perfect. The New Statesman reports that during testing, 45 percent of warnings were false positives. While one third of users who were in close proximity to a coronavirus case were not notified.

RUNDOWN SHOWS:
1. Man downloads the app and board a bus
2. App exchanges Bluetooth handshakes with nearby handsets also running the app
3. App checks for anonymous keys of nearby positive tests
4. Man tests positive and enters his PIN. App users who had been in close contact with the man are notified
5. Venues such as pubs offer QR codes for app users to "check in"
6. During testing, app had high false-positive rate and failed to notify one third of those who had been in close contact to a coronavirus case

VOICEOVER (in English):

"The BBC reports that England and Wales launched an app for tracking and tracing the coronavirus on Thursday, September 24. The app is based on software developed by Google and Apple."

"When two phones running the app are close to each other, they exchange anonymous Bluetooth keys. The distance and duration of the contact is measured in five-minute intervals."

"The NHS app will regularly check a database of anonymous keys for nearby positive tests."

"If someone tests positive, they will be given a unique PIN which they can enter into their phone to register the test result."

"If an app user is assessed as having been in a 'high-risk encounter' with someone who tested positive, they will be notified and asked to self-isolate."

"Venues such pubs and restaurants as well as communal areas of buildings such as universities and hospitals will be asked to display QR codes for users to 'check in.'"

"However, the system is not perfect. The New Statesman reports that during testing, 45 percent of warnings were false positives. While one third of users who were in close proximity to a coronavirus case were not notified."

SOURCES: BBC News, Business Cloud
https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-54270334
https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-54250736
https://www.businesscloud.co.uk/news/how-the-new-nhs-covid-19-tracing-app-works/