COVID-19: Virus-tracking app launched to ease lockdown in UK

Researchers in the UK have come up with a coronavirus tracking app that alerts people ifthey have been in contact with someone infected with the deadly virus.

According to the BBC, researchers at Oxford have proposed the app to the government as a means of easing the lockdown currently in force across the country.

The scientists posit that the location-tracking tech would enable a week’s worth of manual detective work to be done in an instant.

Though they say participants could come in voluntarily at the initial stage, UKhealth chiefs have already confirmed they are exploring the idea.

“NHSX is looking at whether app-based solutions might be helpful in tracking and managing coronavirus, and we have assembled expertise from inside and outside the organisation to do this as rapidly as possible,” said the tech-focused division’s chief Matthew Gould.

The study by the team at the University of Oxford’s Big Data Institute and Nuffield Department of Medicine was published in the journal Science.

How the app works

The app would record people’s GPS location data as they move about their daily lives. This would be supplemented by users scanning QR (quick response) codes posted to public amenities in places where a GPS signal is inadequate, as well as Bluetooth signals.

If a person starts feeling ill, it is suggested they use the app to request a home test. And if it comes back positive for Covid-19, then an instant signal would be sent to everyone they had been in close contact with over recent days.

While those people would be advised to self-isolate for a fortnight, they still would not be told who had triggered the warning.

Furthermore, the app is being fine-tuned to act as a hub for coronavirus-related health services and serves as a means to request food and medicine deliveries.

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