The battle against COVID-19 is about to enter the next step in the United Kingdom. Each day, the British Government holds a press conference to reveal the latest statistics and outline policy.
Today, the Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, announced:
“Today I wanted to outline the next step: a new NHS app for contact tracing. If you become unwell with the symptoms of coronavirus, you can securely tell this new NHS app and the app will then send an alert anonymously to other app users that you’ve been in significant contact with over the past few days, even before you had symptoms, so that they know and can act accordingly.”
Contact tracing is not new and other countries have used it successfully. It means that if people are told to self-isolate immediately after coming into contact with COVID-19, then it means they could avoid passing on the pathogen even if they appear to be symptom-free.
But, unsurprisingly, concerns have been raised about privacy, as the app seems to track people and their movements in some detail.
The National Health Service, Britain’s public health system, is dearly prized by the British people, providing world-class care, free to all at the point of care. Its importance just now cannot be underestimated.