THE NHS Track and Trace app has been at the forefront of the fight against Covid-19- making sure people who have been in contact with someone who has Covid-19 are able to isolate successfully.
As part of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s roadmap out of lockdown, non-essential shops are set to open next week as well as pubs – as long as you sit outside.
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If like many Brits, you’re raring to go when it comes to getting back to normal life – then you will have to use the Track and Trace app when attending the pub and other venues.
From April 12 Brits can go to the gym on their own and train, go to the hairdressers, go on a staycation with family at a self-catered resort and you will also be able to go to a pub or restaurant outside – as long as you abide by the rule of six.
What is the NHS contact tracing app?
The app was first launched on September 24 and allows people scan barcode-like QR codes to register visits to hospitality venues and will use Apple and Google’s method of detecting other smartphones nearby.
The app was first trialled in the Isle of Wight and the east London borough of Newham.
The app was redeveloped entirely last summer to adopt a framework created by Apple and Google, after an initial attempt to build an independent one failed to deliver on iPhones.
It has now been redeveloped in order to help people log test results and to stop asymptomatic infections from spreading.
Since its launch last year, around 22 million people have downloaded the app.
The new version of the app has different features which will allow you to enter your test results – after it was revealed that every Brit will have access to two tests a week from Friday.
How is the new version different?
To coincide with the new testing regime – from April 8 there will be a number of changes to the app.
The new rules state that everyone in a group must check in to the venue they are attending.
The guidance states: “When a group enters a hospitality venue, every individual must check either by scanning the official NHS QR code poster with the NHS Covid-19 app, or by providing their contact details. Previously, only the lead member of the group needed to provide contact details to check in.”
New updates also mean that if an app user tests positive, they will be asked to share their venue history in a privacy-protecting way via the app.
Test and Trace states that this will allow venue alerts to be generated more quickly, and improve the ability to identify where outbreaks are occurring and take steps to prevent the virus spreading.
New features to help trace cases with no symptoms have also been added.
The new guidance states: “If a person has been at a venue on the same day as several other people who have since tested positive for Covid-19, they may receive an alert, advising them to book a test immediately, whether they are showing symptoms or not.
“This is to support finding asymptomatic cases who may have caught the virus but are not displaying symptoms.”
New QR posters will also be displayed at venues and it is now a legal requirement to display an official QR code poster.
How does it work?
The new app tells people whether they have been close to someone who has had coronavirus and send out alerts advising them to self-isolate.
The app adopts a Bluetooth system designed by Apple and Google- to make an anonymous log of phones that have been close to each other.
Unlike the first app, this contact-tracing app will also include other features designed to give users “personal benefits” including a countdown timer for people who are self-isolating and alerts about the local level of the virus.
On setting up the app users will be met with details about what the app does and a privacy notice first.
The app will then ask for permission to use Bluetooth to carry out automatic contact tracing, as well as the ability to receive notifications, should someone you have been near report symptoms or have a positive test returned.
Prompts will appear on-screen asking people to allow the app to access these features.
Next, you will need to provide the first part of your postcode, which is used to show the risk level in your local area.
There are various features in the app including “venue check in”.
It lets people scan a QR code rather than manually providing contact tracing details.
Elsewhere, users can tap “About” at the top of the main screen to see a list of the places they have checked in. There is also the option to delete all data here.
There is also a “report symptoms option”.
Here people can tap the symptoms they have and indicate when these started appearing.
It will then advise you to isolate and a countdown will commence based on the date provided.
A button at the bottom directs people to the Government website where they can then book a test.
The results will be sent in the usual way via email or text message, but also within the app.
After doing this, the green pulsing on the home screen of the app will change to red and show you how many days of isolation you have left.
What should I do if I think I have Covid-19?
The new system works in two parts – the first is for someone who tests positive for Covid-19 and the second is for their contacts.
Anyone with a new, continuous cough, a high temperature or a change in their sense of smell or taste, should:
As soon as you experience coronavirus symptoms, you should self-isolate.
2. Get tested
Order a coronavirus test immediately so you can confirm whether or not you’ve been infected.
A test can be ordered online directly from the Coronavirus page of the NHS website.
For those that don’t have internet access, a new number has been set up – call 119 if you need a test.
If your test is positive you must complete the remainder of your seven-day self-isolation.
If your test is negative, you and other household members no longer need to isolate and you can get on with your everyday lives.
4. Share contacts
If you test positive for coronavirus, the NHS Test and Trace service will send you a text or email alert or call you within 24 hours.
They will provide instructions on how to share details of people you have been in close, recent contact with and places you have visited.
It is important that you respond as soon as possible so that appropriate advice can be given to those who need it.
You will be asked to do this online via a secure website or you will be called by an NHS contact tracer.
Can I get a test if I have no symptoms?
Yes – part of the new system means that people who have no symptoms can access rapid lateral flow tests.
It had previously been the case that you could only get a test if you had symptoms.
The new system means that people who work for the NHS or in positions where they are more exposed to infections, can get tested weekly.
Where can I get tested?
There are test sites up and down the country and your local council website will be able to tell you where your nearest site is.
Book a visit to a test site to have the test today. Or order a home test kit if you cannot get to a test site.
What support is there if I have to self-isolate?
People who are contacted by the NHS Test and Trace service are given clear information explaining what they must do and how they can access local support if needed.
Guidance is also available online at the Government’s website.
The Department for Work and Pensions has also announced that those having to self-isolate will be eligible for statutory sick pay if they are unable to work from home.
This applies across the four nations of the UK.
How secure is contact tracing?
People can choose at any time to make the app stop recording connections to other phones.
And the app will now not send any information to the NHS or the Government – people will only be given advice to self-isolate if they are at risk, or advised to get a test if they have symptoms.
What if I don’t want to share my contact’s data?
The app will have a toggle switch for people to turn the contact tracing on or off without uninstalling the app.
People will have to report a positive test themselves in order to alert people they may have put at risk.
Recent analysis from NHS Test and Trace shows that for every 1,000 lateral flow tests carried out, there is less than one false positive result.
The tests detect cases with high levels of virus and are very effective in finding people who don’t have symptoms but are very likely to transmit the disease.
Testing and using the Test & Trace app is a huge part of keeping transmission rates low.
Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said: “Around one in three people who have Covid-19 show no symptoms, and as we reopen society and resume parts of life we have all dearly missed, regular rapid testing is going to be fundamental in helping us quickly spot positive cases and squash any outbreaks.
“The vaccine programme has been a shot in the arm for the whole country, but reclaiming our lost freedoms and getting back to normal hinges on us all getting tested regularly.
“The British public have shown over the last year that they quickly adapt and always do what it is right in the interest of public health, and I know they will do their bit by getting tested regularly in the months ahead.”