NHS developing coronavirus contact-tracing app after successful use in Singapore

A coronavirus contact-tracing app, which alerts people if they have been near an infected person within 21 days, could be developed in the UK after the success of a similar model in Singapore.

The city state has deployed an app called TraceTogether to help contain the spread of the virus by automatically recording who people have come into contact with via their smartphones.

The app uses Bluetooth connections to log other phones in close proximity – so, when a user tests positive for Covid-19, the data can be used to tell those they have been in contact with to self-isolate.

Last week, the Singapore government said more than 600,000 citizens were using the app, which it is making available to other countries.

The NHS’s digital arm, NHSX, is currently developing its own contact-tracing app, but details of how it will work are yet to be announced. The Telegraph understands that the NHS is looking closely at similar technology to the TraceTogether app.

Over the weekend, Jeremy Hunt, the former Health Secretary wrote in The Telegraph that the Government needed to harness available technologies to speed up contact tracing, noting that Singapore had only had two Covid-19 deaths while using the app.

Oxford academics have also said real-time contact tracing is the most effective method of stemming the virus, which often spreads in the first few days of infection when people are not showing symptoms.

However, such technologies have prompted concern from civil liberties groups, who have warned that any new coronavirus tracking apps collecting mass data must comply with human rights and privacy laws.

Meanwhile, Formula 1 companies have emerged as unlikely manufacturers in the Government’s efforts to produce enough ventilators for hospitals before coronavirus is predicted to peak in around three weeks.

Seven racing giants, including Mercedes, McLaren and Red Bull, are working with the NHS to rapidly convert their factories to be able to manufacture breathing assistance kits.

On Sunday, it emerged that Mercedes is so far advanced with efforts to manufacture a device that keeps Covid-19 sufferers’ airwaves open that the Government has already ordered the kits into testing.  

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