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Launch date announced for England and Wales’ contact tracing app

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A new COVID-19 contact tracing app will be launched across England and Wales later this month and will use Apple and Google’s method of detecting other smartphones. 

The app will let individuals scan QR codes to register visits to hospitality venues.

Businesses are being encouraged to display QR code posters in support.

WHY IT MATTERS

Last week, public health officials warned of “worrying signs” of infection among the elderly, as the R number was raised between 1 and 1.2 for the first time since March.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) estimated that there were 39,700 new cases of the virus in England during the first week in September.

THE LARGER CONTEXT

The first version of the NHS contact tracing app was trialled on the Isle of Wight in May but later abandoned.

Scotland has also launched a new contact tracing app called Protect Scotland, which lets people know if they have been in close contact with someone who tests positive.

More than 600,000 people have downloaded the app.  

The Department of Health and Social Care also highlighted that an alternative system such as a handwritten register must be maintained for people who do not have smartphones. 

ON THE RECORD

UK health secretary, Matt Hancock said: “We need to use every tool at our disposal to control the spread of the virus including cutting-edge technology.”

“The launch of the app later this month across England and Wales is a defining moment and will aid our ability to contain the virus at a critical time.”

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