A new NHS 'track and trace' app is being trialled - here's how it works

A new app which can show users if they've come into contact with someone with coronavirus is being trialled this week.

The NHS app, named Track and Trace, will be rolled out on the Isle of Wight before being released to the rest of the UK, in an attempt to limit the chance of a second wave of infections.

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How to use the app

Track and Trace can be downloaded onto smartphones, and uses bluetooth technology to figure out whether users have been close enough to an infected person to contract the virus.

Epidemiologists working with the NHS said that around 56 per cent of the UK population - equivalent to around 80 per cent of smartphone users - will need to use the app in order for it to be effective at slowing the spread of coronavirus.

Transport secretary Grant Shapps told the BBC's Andrew Marr show that the government will ask everyone in the UK to download it.

'A contribution that all of us can make'

At the government's daily briefing, Cabinet Minister Michael Gove expressed his hope that over half of the 80,000 households on the Isle of Wight would download the app.

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"When it comes to contract tracing, the more people who download the app developed by the NHS the better," he said.

"Knowing this is a contribution that all of us can make to helping to keep our communities and neighbours safe is a very powerful incentive."

How does the app work?

Should a user of the app develop coronavirus symptoms, alerts will be sent to anyone who the infected person came into contact with - theoretically allowing these people to go into quarantine or get tested.

Data is recorded under an anonymous ID, rather than with a name.

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Along with extensive testing and other measures, extensive contact tracing has been credited with enabling some countries - such as South Korea - to get outbreaks under control sooner.

Yet, while some see the app as a possible means of easing lockdown, others have expressed concern about the government and third parties being given access to user data.