NHS Covid-19 app is available on your smartphone NOW — here's everything you need to know

Bluetooth technology relies on mass downloading to track coronavirus cases near you

People across Northamptonshire are being urged to download the NHS Covid-19 app to help control the spread of coronavirus and protect themselves and their loved ones as case numbers rise.

The app launches today (Thursday) after positive trials and rigorous testing backed by a TV advertising campaign with the strapline ‘Protect your loved ones. Get the app.’.

It will be available to anyone over 16 and in multiple languages and will identify contacts of those who have tested positive for coronavirus.

All the UK’s major mobile network operators — including Vodafone, Three, EE and O2, Sky and Virgin — have confirmed all in-app activity will not come out of customers’ data allowance.

The contact tracing element of the app works by using low-energy Bluetooth to log the amount of time you spend near other app users, and the distance between you. It can then alert you if someone you have been close to later tests positive for Covid-19 — even if you don’t know each other.

It will advise you to self-isolate if you have been in close contact with a confirmed case. It will also enable you to check symptoms, book a free test if needed and get your test results.

The app does not hold personal information such as your name, address or date of birth, and only requires the first half of your postcode to ensure local outbreaks can be managed. No personal data is shared with the government or the NHS.

The NHS Covid-19 app can be downloaded to your smartphone today

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: "We are at a tipping point in our efforts to control the spread of this virus. With infection rates rising we must use every tool at our disposal to prevent transmission, including the latest technology.

"We have worked extensively with tech companies, international partners, and privacy and medical experts – and learned from the trials – to develop an app that is secure, simple to use and will help keep our country safe.

"Today’s launch marks an important step forward in our fight against this invisible killer and I urge everyone who can to download and use the app to protect themselves and their loved ones."

New laws come into force today will require certain businesses in Northamptonshire to display NHS Test and Trace QR codes so customers with the app can check-in.

Dido Harding, Executive Chair of England’s NHS Test and Trace Programme, said: "We want to make it as easy as possible for everyone to engage with England’s NHS Test and Trace service.

"The NHS Covid-19 app enables the majority of people with a smartphone to find out if they are at risk of having caught the virus and need to self isolate, order a test if they have symptoms, and access the right guidance and advice.

"The features of this app, including QR code check-in at venues, work alongside our traditional contact tracing service and will help us to reach more people quickly in their communities to prevent further spread of the virus."