Britain Finally Launches its COVID-19 App- After Four Months Delay!

The UK Government’s coronavirus tracing app finally launches nationwide today- four months later than planned!

The UK government will finally launch its troubled smartphone app today to help track the coronavirus in England and Wales, four months behind schedule and with cases surging to levels not seen since the peak of the first phase of the pandemic in May. The COVID-19 app from the National Health Service uses Bluetooth technology to alert users if they spend 15 minutes or more within two metres of another user who subsequently tests positive for COVID-19.

Britain COVID-19 App
The tracing app uses Bluetooth technology to trigger an alert after being in close proximity to an infected person. image: Twitter

The government had said the app would arrive in May, but early trials were dogged by problems, and developers abandoned home-grown technology in favour of Apple and Google’s model in June. The embarrassing U-turn followed warnings from tech experts that it would be less effective and that it should have switched to the Apple-Google software earlier.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the reworked tool was “an important step forward in our fight against this invisible killer”. “We have worked extensively with tech companies, international partners, and privacy and medical experts – and learned from the trials – to develop an app that is secure, simple to use,” he said.

The government launched prime-time television adverts on Sept 23 with the slogan: “Protect your loved ones. Get the app“. But confidence in Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s handling of the pandemic has plummeted, with the country’s struggling testing system denting people’s faith. There have been complaints of people being unable to get tests or being given appointments for testing centres hours from their homes, despite government claims of vastly increased capacity.

Ministers have blamed increased demand, including from schools when students returned in early September. The Scottish Government launched its own app earlier this month, while Northern Ireland rolled out its smartphone tracing tool a month ago in August.


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Written by

Tony Winterburn

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