An app that has been many months in the making, after a period of testing with volunteers, the official NHS COVID-19 contact tracing app is now available to iOS and Android users. Developed in conjunction with Apple and Google, the app helps you to determine whether you have been on contact with anyone who has tested positive for coronavirus so you can self-isolate if appropriate.
The app helps to keep you informed about the level of risk and infection in your local area, and gives you the chance to check into the venue you visit so you can be told about any outbreaks that may put you at risk.
Should the system determine that you have been in a location at which there is a chance you have come into contact with someone with coronavirus, the app will alert you to the fact and advise you to self-isolate to avoid putting others at risk.
As well as the contact tracing element, the app also offers information and advice. If you are feeling ill and do not want to visit a doctor, or are unable to, you can use the app to assess your symptoms. By answering a simple series of questions about how your feel, you can quickly determine whether you may have contracted coronavirus, and book an appointment for a test if appropriate.
The app only covers England and Wales, and at the moment it is available in English, Welsh, Bengali, Urdu, Gujarati, Punjabi (Gurmukhi script), Chinese (Simplified), Romanian, Turkish and Arabic (Modern Standard). More languages will be added over time to make the app accessible to a wider range of people.
It is very difficult to assess the effectiveness of the app as this is a largely untested technology, but the principles behind it are pretty sound. There are understandable concerns about the privacy implications involved in sharing information about your location, but this is fundamental to the system working as it should. For anyone seeking peace of mind, NHS COVID-19 can be a great help, so it's worth giving it a try.