Are we putting too much faith in Technology at this trying times, dealing with the coronavirus
The United Kingdom’s NHS is testing its forthcoming Covid-19 contact-tracing app at a military Air Force base in North Yorkshire.
The app would be used in conjunction with medical tests and manual contact tracing by humans amid the ongoing vaccine trails that was announced today were two volunteers have been confirmed to receive the trial vaccine.
It works by using Bluetooth signals to log when smartphone owners are close to each other – so if someone develops Covid-19 symptoms, an alert can be sent to other users they may have infected.
The on-screen warning for those deemed to be at risk says: “If you’re on public transport, go home by the most direct route [and] stay at least 2m or 6.6ft away from people if you can find a room where you can close the door and avoid touching people, surfaces and objects.”
Currently the app can tell its users either: “You’re OK now,” or: “You need to isolate yourself and stay at home.” It has said the alerts will be sent “anonymously”, so users will not be told who triggered a warning.
The health secretary for England said the trials “are going well” and also told the house of commons that:
“The more people who sign up for this new app when it goes live, the better informed our response will be and the better we can therefore protect the NHS,”
There are plans for a more realistic follow-up “beta test” at a later date – possibly in a remote community, where its use would be voluntary – by which time the text will have been changed.