Coronavirus: Download the NHS Test & Trace App, Brent’s health chief advises

Dr Melanie Smith, director of public health for Brent. Picture: Brent Council

Dr Melanie Smith, director of public health for Brent. Picture: Brent Council - Credit: Archant

Brent’s public health chief has urged people to download the NHS Test and Trace app in case they catch coronavirus.

The NHS is launching the app across the country today (September 24).

The app, which can be downloaded on a smartphone, will tell people to self-isolate if their phone detects they were near someone later found to have Covid-19.

Smartphone users will be asked to download the app, which detects when a fellow user is nearby.

When two phones running the app are near each other, they will make contact through Bluetooth.

If one of the two owners later shares a positive coronavirus test via the app, then the other will receive an alert.

Dr Melanie Smith said: “The app is a vital part of the overall NHS Test and Trace service and it is an important new tool to help control the spread of the virus.

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“It will allow us all to know more quickly if we’re at risk of the virus – so we can take action fast and protect our communities and the ones we love.

“The app will also provide users with local risk information, alert them if they have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive and has a built-in QR scanner to check-in at venues.

“But to make it a success, we need your help.”

The latest version of the app has been in testing among residents on the Isle of Wight and in Newham since mid-August, after the first was marred by technical issues and eventually scrapped.

Though the Bluetooth-reliant technology was initially described as the “best possible way to help the NHS” by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps in May, results from other countries already using apps have been mixed.

As the software is voluntary, its success will also depend heavily on how many people choose to download and use it.

Covid numbers in Brent are currently quite low compared to other areas, at 19 per cent.

According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) the infection rate in Brent in the week to September 11 was 25.17, up from 18.19 the previous seven days - an increase of 38 per cent.

It has now gone down to 19.72 for the week up to September 18, with 134 local authorities with a higher rate.