The Government’s new NHS COVID-19 App: where to download it, how to use it and how your data is protected

24 September 2020, 06:00

Download the NHS COVID-19 app today
Download the NHS COVID-19 app today. Picture: Getty

How to download the NHS COVID-19 app and protect your loved ones.

The government’s new contact tracing app is here.

The NHS COVID-19 app allows you to test and trace, and protect your loved ones from the risk of the virus by keeping track of who we may have had contact with. It can be found on the App Store and Google Play, and is free to download in England and Wales from Thursday 24 September.

And this weekend (25-27 September) marks The Big App Download Weekend, where people from England and Wales will be coming together to download the app – to help protect loved ones and stop the spread of coronavirus.

Here’s everything you need to know...

What the government’s new test and trace app does

• The app lets you know anonymously if you have been in close contact with someone who has coronavirus, so you can take the right action to protect the ones you love, stopping further spread of the virus.

• It shows you the risk level in your local area, based on the postcode district you enter when you download it. And it gives you advice on what action to take, so you can know how best to protect the ones you love.

• There is a built-in QR code scanner to check in at venues. We all have to leave our contact details (name and phone number) at venues, particularly hospitality, so we can be contacted if there is an outbreak linked to that venue. You’ll start seeing official NHS QR code posters in local businesses, and the app is the quickest and easiest way to now check-in, without having to fill out forms or pass on your details.

• If you have symptoms, you can check these with the app to see if they might suggest you have coronavirus, based on the latest government guidance. The app will then guide you to booking a test online. If you receive a positive result, you can tell the app, and it will send an anonymous notification to any app user who you’ve come into recent close contact with.

The NHS COVID-19 contact tracing app is free to download in England and Wales.
The NHS COVID-19 contact tracing app is free to download in England and Wales. Picture: Getty

How does the app work?

The app uses Bluetooth Low Energy to anonymously assess the distance over time between people who have downloaded the app. If a person tests positive for coronavirus, the algorithm calculates the risk to every app user they came into contact with when they were contagious.

Click here to find out more about the risk-scoring algorithm.

How does the app protect data and privacy?

The app protects your privacy as it uses Apple and Google’s proven Bluetooth technology, designed so that nobody will know who or where you are. Any data shared with the app is only held on your phone, so if you decide to delete the app (which you can do at any time), all the data is deleted as well. The app cannot track your location – it doesn’t use GPS - check or monitor if you are self-isolating, or see personal information on your phone such as messages or contacts.

How to download the NHS COVID-19 app

The app is free, and is available to download in England and Wales via the App Store or Google Play, from Thursday 24 September.

Visit www.covid19.nhs.uk to find out more.