New NHS Test and Trace app to be rolled out to Newham residents to beat COVID-19

  1. NHS Test and Trace Service results in line with the recognised metric of success for contact tracing services across the world 
  2. Newham residents will be the first to trial the new NHS Test and Trace app ahead of a national roll-out and will receive unique codes in the post to download the app
  3. App features include - alerts based on postcode, QR check-in at venues, symptom checker and test booking
  4. The app will work alongside enhanced contact tracing services and testing to help minimise the spread of Covid-19

The latest statistics from the tenth week of NHS Test and Trace operation show the service is consistently reaching the majority of those testing positive and their contacts, and has reached more than a quarter of a million people since the service launched. The service is reaching over 79% of all those who test positive, and 83.4% of their contacts where contact details were provided, which is in line with the recognised metric of success for contact tracing services across the world.

With a rise of 12 per cent more people getting tested compared to the previous week, the data shows the public health campaign run by NHS Test and Trace to encourage greater uptake of testing for those with possible symptoms of the virus is working. In-person testing at mobile testing units, drive-through and walk-through testing sites continue to deliver results rapidly, with 93.6 per cent of tests returned the next day.

This comes as a new NHS Test and Trace app will be trialled with residents in Newham from today, as well as on the Isle of Wight and to NHS Volunteers Responders across England, as part of the country’s NHS Test and Trace service.

Residents in Newham will receive unique codes to give them early access to download the app via email and post. They will be part of a three-week trial period as the NHS Test and Trace programme rigorously evaluates the app in real-world settings to monitor performance and identify improvements ready for national launch.

The app needs to be tested in different ways with different groups that represent the whole of the UK. Newham is an area with a diverse population who might be more at risk to the virus so trialling the app here will ensure that it meets the needs of a range of different communities.

The NHS Test and Trace app has been designed to work alongside traditional contact tracing services and testing, to help people to understand if they are at risk of infection so they can take action to protect themselves and their communities. It uses the latest in security technology and is designed with user privacy in mind so it tracks the virus, not people.

England’s NHS Test and Trace programme has worked closely with major tech companies, including Google and Apple, scientists within the Alan Turing Institute, medical experts, privacy groups, at-risk communities and teams in countries across the world such as Germany using similar apps, to develop a state-of-the-art app that is safe, simple and secure.

Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said:

“It’s essential we get the country moving again so people can get back to doing what they love. Our statistics show more people with symptoms are getting tested and NHS Test and Trace reaches the vast majority of people testing positive, and their contacts. We are seeing a significant rise in the number of people with symptoms getting tested, and 90% of people who turn up to be tested get their results by the next day. 
“We’ve worked with tech companies, international partners, privacy and medical experts to develop an app that is simple to use, secure and will help keep the country safe.
“Building on the feedback from the first phase, I want to thank Isle of Wight residents who will again play a vital national role in fighting this pandemic, joined by residents in Newham, London and our incredible NHS Volunteer Responders. We are hugely grateful to everyone playing their part to rigorously test the new app and provide the foundation for a national roll-out.”

Mayor of Newham, Rokhsana Fiaz said:

“We know that Newham has seen some of the most significant impacts of Covid-19 due to the health inequalities and vulnerabilities in our communities.

“With the threat of Covid-19 still with us, it’s vital we support our residents to keep safe and help others. The app is a welcomed addition to all the measures that our public health team have put in place working closely with our local health partners.

“With its easy to use features, the app will be available in different languages and comes with the assurance that personal data stays with the user so that people’s privacy is protected.

“By taking part in this early phase to trial of the app before its national roll-out, we’ll be working closely with all sections of our diverse community through our Covid-19 Health Champions network and neighbourhood outreach teams, building on our innovation in creating a unique array of resources to support our community through this unprecedented time of challenge”.

The app will log the time and distance a user has spent near to anyone, even if they don’t know them, so it can alert them if necessary if that person later tests positive for COVID-19,and help them easily book a free test, and quickly get their results.

This is a useful addition to the existing NHS Test and Trace service because it will mean you do not need to know the contact details of people for the service to warn them they have been in contact with someone who has tested positive. This means the service can reach more people and further prevent the spread of the virus. This will become more important as people are beginning to return to their normal lives as much as possible, getting on public transport, seeing friends and going to restaurants.

It uses the latest in security technology to protect people’s privacy - the system generates a random ID for an individual’s device, which can be exchanged between devices to monitor the spread of the virus while rotating frequently to prevent tracking.

The app has a range of additional, enhanced features that will help to reduce personal and public risk from COVID-19 as part of the end-to-end Test and Trace service:

  1. Alert: letting users know the level of coronavirus risk in their postcode district.
  2. QR check In: alerting users if they have recently visited a venue where they may have come into contact with someone who later tests positive with COVID-19
  3. Symptoms: allowing users to check if they have coronavirus symptoms and see if they need to order a free test all in one place
  4. Test: helping users book a free test through the app and get results quickly to know whether they have COVID-19.
  5. Isolate: if a user is told to self-isolate, a timer feature will help countdown that period and access will be provided to relevant advice.

Dido Harding, Chair of the NHS Test and Trace Programme, said:

“I’m delighted to have achieved our ambition of developing an app which will enable anyone with a smartphone to engage with every aspect of the NHS Test and Trace service, from ordering a test through to accessing the right guidance and advice.

“This will support our integrated, localised approach to Test and Trace, ensuring we can reach more people in their communities and work towards our vision of helping more people get back to the most normal life possible at the lowest risk.”

 Simon Thompson, Managing Director of the NHS Test and Trace App, said:

“The NHS Test and Trace programme is vital to controlling the spread of coronavirus and this app is designed to give people maximum freedom at minimum risk.

“We have worked with some of the most innovative organisations in the World, such as Apple, Google, scientists from the Alan Turing Institute and Oxford University and governments across the world to come up with a state-of-the-art product which works to protect people everyday. It’s like Test and Trace in your pocket.

“By giving access to the Isle of Wight and NHS Volunteers first we can make this app even better before rolling out nationwide so the rest of the population can benefit.” 
The app is designed to the highest standards of data privacy and data security. It will not track individuals and does not hold personal information such as name, address or date of birth. For some features, the app may require more information from the user (e.g. if you are booking a test) but only if the user gives their explicit consent.

Published: 13 Aug 2020