Scotland will not recommend NHS coronavirus tracing app until ‘confident that it works’

The NHS contact tracing app will not yet be recommended for use in Scotland, with officials saying they first needed to know that it worked and was secure.

As trials began on the Isle of Wight on Tuesday, there were mounting privacy fears over the app and warnings that it faces legal challenges and could hamper international travel.

Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s First Minister, has said she is “cautious” about the app, and Scotland’s system is instead based on “old-fashioned” contact tracing.

Asked whether the Scottish Government would recommend the app, clinical director Professor Jason Leitch said: “I’ll download it myself once I’m confident that it works, the security is good and it feeds into our Scottish systems.

“We don’t know that yet. Nobody can know that yet because it’s just been developed. The First Minister will only decide if we should use it when and if we are happy that not only does it work but second, is it secure and will your data be secure?”

For the app to be an effective contact tracing tool, it needs to be used by almost 60 per cent of the population, and the decision to use different methods in Scotland will put its effectiveness in jeopardy.

Ms Sturgeon said that, while the app will be available in Scotland, the country will not be “building a whole system around it”. Instead, the Scottish NHS will rely on specialist contract tracers who will directly inform a patient’s contacts.

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