A 'defining moment' has been reached with the NHS Covid-19 app launched across England and Wales on September 24, Matt Hancock has said.
Ahead of the roll-out businesses including pubs, restaurants, hairdressers and cinemas are being urged to ensure they have NHS QR code posters visible on entry so customers who have downloaded the new app can use their smartphones to check-in.
The department said ongoing trials in the London Borough of Newham, on the Isle of Wight and with NHS Volunteer Responders show the app is “highly effective when used alongside traditional contact tracing to identify contacts of those who have tested positive for coronavirus”.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock described the app’s launch as “a defining moment” and said it will help to contain the virus “at a critical time”.
He 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.
“QR codes provide an easy and simple way to collect contact details to support the NHS Test and Trace system.
“Hospitality businesses can now download posters for their premises ahead of the launch of the NHS Covid-19 app. This will allow the public to seamlessly check in to venues using the app when it launches.
“It is vital we are using the NHS Test and Trace system to reach as many people as possible to prevent outbreaks and stop this virus in its tracks. This function will make it simple and easy so we can keep this virus under control.”
The government has come under increasing pressure in recent days for perceived failings in the testing and tracing of those with coronavirus.
Members of the public have reported being asked to drive hundreds of miles to get a test and ITV News reported a whistleblower exposing holes in the system.
Wales’ health minister Vaughan Gething said the app’s launch is “an important part of coronavirus response” and that it is sensible for the app to work across the two countries.
He said: “Working on a joint England and Wales basis is the most practical option here, as we know there is a lot of movement across our shared border. It makes sense to use the same app, working in exactly the same way, regardless of which country you’re in.
“The Welsh Government has worked closely with the NHS app team to ensure the app is easy to use and gives people the right advice and guidance, tailored to the country they reside in. I strongly encourage people in Wales to download and use the app when it launches.
“The more people who download and use the NHS Covid-19 app, the more it will help us to prevent the spread of Covid-19.”