NHS COVID-19 app launches in England and Wales

The long-awaited NHS COVID-19 app has finally launched in England and Wales, featuring Bluetooth-enabled contact tracing, risk alerts based on postcode, symptom checker and test booking tools.

From today, some businesses are required by law to display the official NHS QR code posters -- a feature the app is also designed to support. So far, more than 160,000 businesses are understood to have downloaded a QR code.

On security, the Government said the app has been designed "with user privacy in mind, so it tracks the virus, not people", and "only requires the first half of your postcode to ensure local outbreaks can be managed" and as such no personal data is shared with the Government or the NHS.

Health secretary Matt Hancock said: "We are at a tipping point in our efforts to control the spread of this virus. With infection rates rising we must use every tool at our disposal to prevent transmission, including the latest technology."

Many months in development, the engineers behind the app enlisted the support of Google, Apple, the Alan Turing Institute and Oxford University, Zuhlke Engineering, medical experts, privacy groups, at-risk communities and teams in countries across the world using similar apps.

"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 and will help keep our country safe," Hancock added.

Vodafone, Three, EE and O2, Sky and Virgin, have said in-app activity will not come out of users’ data allowances.

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