Contact-tracing app nearly ready for launch

A second attempt at a coronavirus contact-tracing app for England will soon be tested by members of the public.

The Times has reported that ministers will launch a scaled back version of the coronavirus app this month after accepting that it was not accurate enough to be used for contact tracing. Following a number of revisions, a version that tells people about infection levels in their area and allows them to use personal information to calculate a risk score will be trialled.

The app was originally developed as an automated form of contact tracing, but is likely to begin instead as an individualised information and advice service informing people about their personal exposure to coronavirus. It will let people scan barcode-like QR codes to log venue visits, as well as implementing Apple and Google's method of detecting other smartphones.

As part of this, The Times reports that users could also be provided with a rough count of how many times a day they have been within 2m of any other person with the app installed, for more than 15 minutes.

It remains unclear how long it will be until the app is rolled out nationwide in England.

Northern Ireland launched the StopCOVID NI app last week, which is built round the same Apple-Google framework. It tells users to go into quarantine for 14 days if it determines there is a good chance they have been exposed to the virus.

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