Home U.K. NHS contact tracing app delayed AGAIN until winter as it 'isn't a...

NHS contact tracing app delayed AGAIN until winter as it ‘isn’t a priority’

Health minister Lord Bethell told MPs at the Science and Technology Committee yesterday that the app “isn’t a priority for us at the moment”.

He said he could not give an exact launch date for the app, but claimed that the Department was “seeking to get something going for the winter”.

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Lord Bethell said that the app was not a priority for the government at the moment. (Image: ArtMarie / Getty)

The NHS Covid-19 app has been trialled on the Isle of Wight over the past few weeks.

Lord Bethell claimed that the trial had “gone very well indeed,” the BBC reports.

However, the BBC also revealed yesterday that two of the app’s lead managers – Matthew Gould and Geraint Lewis – had stepped back from the project.

The two NHSX employees had always planned to remove themselves from the project around this time, the BBC claims, but then again, they had also planned for it to have been released by now.

Contact tracing helps warn people if they have come into contact with someone who has coronavirus. (Image: Elenabs / Getty)

In their place, former Apple executive Simon Thompson – a British businessman who has also had senior roles at HSBC and Ocado – will take the helm.

New modelling research published in the Lancet Infectious Diseases journal has shown that a combination of contact tracing and isolation – as well as physical distancing measures – could be the most effective way to control the epidemic.

According to Sky News, Lord Bethell added that the app had faced “technical challenges” and there was also an “ongoing battle” to convince people that the app was safe and secure to use.

He added: “If we didn’t get it right the first time round, we might poison the pool and close down a really important option for the future”, the BBC reports.

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READ: First look at NHS Covid-19 tracking app

An advert by the NHS encouraging people to get tested if they have symptoms. (Image: Mike Kemp / InPIctures / Getty)

Additionally, he explained that instead of focusing on the test and trace app, the government was putting more work into its manual contact tracing system.

Indeed, a Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said that the app would “complement the NHS Test and Trace programme” which already exists.

Indeed, the government has got a separate test and trace system up and running. The difference is that it’s all conducted centrally by the NHS, rather than using an app.

The Department of Health and Social Care said in a statement published towards the end of May that the test and trace programme would “play a vital role in giving us early warning if the virus is increasing again, locally or nationally.

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The way it works is as follows: If someone experiences symptoms of Covid-19, they must self-isolate for at least seven days, and everyone their household must do the same but for 14 days.

They must then order a Covid-19 test from www.NHS.uk/coronavirus or call 119 to order one.

If the test comes back positive, then the NHS will be in touch with them to get information about who they may have been in contact with recently.

The NHS will then send an alert, via the NHS test and trace service, to anyone who the individual had been in contact with.

Other countries, such as Australia, have already launched a contact tracing app. (Image: Alex Ellinghausen / Sydney Morning Herald / Getty)

These people must then also self-isolate for 14 days from the time they last had contact with the individual who tested positive for Covid-19.

The Department for Health and Social Care said: “It’s really important to do this even if you don’t feel unwell because, if you have been infected, you could become infectious to others at any point up to 14 days.

“Your household doesn’t need to self-isolate with you, if you do not have symptoms, but they must take extra care to follow the guidance on social distancing and handwashing and avoid contact with you at home.”

However, if one develops symptoms after being contacted by the NHS test and trace service warning that they have come into contact with an individual with Covid-19, then their household must also self-isolate immediately.

Again, this person who develops symptoms must also request a Covid-19 test from the NHS.

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