LONDON (AP) – Britain’s health authorities on Thursday began testing a new mobile app that helps users know if they have had contact with someone infected with COVID-19, after some security concerns raised below a previous attempt to use technology to track possible infected people.
The UK Department of Health and Welfare reported that testing of the app began on the Isle of Wight and that testing in the Newham district is scheduled to begin soon. The app, which was developed in collaboration with experts and companies like Google and Apple, is similar to the technology that is being used in Germany and Ireland.
« It uses the latest security technology and was designed with user safety in mind, so it tracks the virus, not people, » the Health Department explained in a statement.
The app uses Bluetooth technology to determine when a user’s phone has been near the cell phone of someone who has tested positive for coronavirus. It does not store personal information such as name, address or date of birth of users.
The app is designed to work in conjunction with the National Health Service’s existing tracking program, and authorities believe the widespread adoption of cellular technology is crucial to helping people return to the lives they had before the pandemic, including the use of public transport and outings to eat at restaurants.
On the other hand, researchers from Imperial College University estimate that 6% of the population of England – 3.4 million people – has suffered from coronavirus.
The calculation is based on a study of 100,000 randomly chosen volunteers who use home blood tests to detect antibodies to the virus that causes COVID-19.
The study, carried out until the end of June, revealed that London has the highest rate of infections, with 13%. People of black, Asian and other ethnic groups are two to three times more likely to have COVID-19 than the white population.
England has had about 271,000 confirmed coronavirus cases through individual tests, according to a tally from Johns Hopkins University. The UK records more than 315,000 cases.
In most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms that disappear in two to three weeks. In some people, especially older adults and those with underlying health conditions, it can lead to more serious illnesses, such as pneumonia, and even death.