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Sunday, May 31, 2020

Contact Tracking App “Could Help Relieve UK From Pandemic Blockade”

Scientists have suggested a contact tracking app that warns people who have been close to someone who has tested positive for coronavirus.

It is hoped that this technology will significantly slow down transmission speeds and help countries get out of the blocks safely.

A study by the Big Data Institute of the University of Oxford and the Department of Population Health in Nuffield, published in the journal Science, proposes an app that uses Bluetooth to keep a record of all other app users with whom a person is found in the immediate vicinity for a few days.

When an individual tests positive for Covid-19, the app can then be used to alert anyone who has been close to them anonymously and advise them to go home and insulate themselves as a precaution against further spread.

The government and NHSX – the national unit charged with advancing a digital transformation of UK health and social care – are believed to be considering whether this idea will work.

“We need a mobile contact tracking app to urgently support health services to control coronavirus transmission, target interventions and protect people,” said Professor Christophe Fraser of the University of Oxford’s Big Data Institute. .

“Our analysis suggests that about half of the transmissions occur early on in the infection, before showing any symptoms of infection.

“Our mathematical models also highlight that traditional public health contact tracking approaches provide incomplete data and fail to keep up with this pandemic.”

However, the scientists behind the project say that any such app should be opt-in and provide secure data storage and privacy protection.

The development will follow Singapore’s example, which has used TraceTogether in its offering to stop the virus from spreading there.

The Irish government is reportedly examining similar technology.

“A contact tracking app can foster good citizenship by alerting people at risk, and it can also help us get out of isolation,” added Professor Fraser.

“If we know that we haven’t been in contact with anyone infected, we can leave the house safely, while protecting our loved ones and avoiding a wider recovery of the coronavirus in our community.”

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