Vital coronavirus tracing app still isn't ready to roll out, Dominic Raab confirms
18 May 2020, 19:25
The critical NHS coronavirus contact tracing app will be ready “in the coming weeks” but there is no date in sight, the Foreign Secretary has said.
Dominic Raab could not confirm the track and test app would be ready before the planned return of some primary school children from 1 June.
The app is currently being trialled on the Isle of Wight and, along with an army of contact tracers, is set to be the breakthrough to any further easing of the lockdown by flagging localised Covid-19 outbreaks.
The Health Secretary Matt Hancock had promised a national rollout of the technology “in mid-May’.
Mr Raab told the Downing Street press briefing: “In terms of the app, it’s still our intention to roll it out across the country for everyone to use in the weeks ahead, I can’t be any more precise at this stage,” he told the Downing Street press briefing.
“But, as I’ve said before, we’re making pretty good progress with it.”
It came as the Government announced that everyone aged five and over in the UK with symptoms of the virus could now be tested.
Testing eligibility had until now been limited to key workers, those aged over 65, healthcare and social care staff, those who cannot work from home and all of their families.
Mr Hancock also told the Commons on Monday that 21,000 people had been recruited to carry out contact-tracing in England, including 7,500 healthcare workers.
But the latest figures show that just 67,409 tests were carried out on Sunday, despite the Prime Minister setting a target for a daily capacity of 200,000 by the end of the month.
Pressed by his Labour shadow Jon Ashworth, Mr Hancock earlier told MPs that the contact tracing app would be ready ‘in the coming weeks”, but also declined to give a date, raising fears its rollout could be pushed back to June.
The NHS track and test app uses bluetooth technology to trace where those who are infected have been, but has been blighted by tech concerns so far.
Asked on Monday whether the NHS app was working, Boris Johnson’s spokesman said: “We are closely studying the first phase of the rollout and expect to be able to improve the app based on user feedback from the Isle of Wight.
“As with any tech project of this size, you would expect us to keep all options under review to make sure the app is as effective as possible.”