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New COVID-19 contact tracing app set to launch trial in England

A new coronavirus contact tracing app is scheduled to begin public trials in England today to support the NHS Test and Trace service, the BBC has reported.

The new trial will be conducted on the Isle of Wight, where the initial pilot took place back in May, as well as in one other area and a volunteer group. The redesigned app will uses technology designed by Apple and Google, which is already use in a number of countries around the world.

The app is designed to use individual’s phones to record when they have been in close contact with another person for a certain amount of time, to determine the risk of infection if either person goes on to develop COVID-19.

If a user is diagnosed with the disease later on, whoever they have been in close contact with for a sustained period will be notified by the app.

App users will also be asked to scan a QR barcode whenever they enter a property, which will allow the app to alert individuals later if they have visited a location that has been linked to multiple infections.

According to the BBC, there are still some issues with the app, with engineers still trying to reduce how often the app mistakenly records people as being within two meters of each other.

There have ben cases where the further two phones are from each other, the increased likelihood there is that the app will record the interaction as within a two meter distance.

“We need the app to help stop transmission by tracing close-proximity contacts as quickly and as comprehensively as possible, capturing those contacts we don’t know or don’t remember meeting,” Professor Christophe Fraser, a scientific advisor to the Department of Health from Oxford University, told the BBC.

“The app should enable us to return to more normal daily activities with the reassurance that our contacts can be rapidly and anonymously notified if we get infected,” he added.