NHS COVID-19 Contact Tracing App Has Told 1.7 Million in England and Wales to Isolate Since September

NHS COVID-19, the contact tracing app created by the U.K. government, has alerted 1.7 million users to isolate following close contact with someone who goes on to test positive.

exposure notification cartoon
That's according to an official GOV.UK press release from the Department of Heath and Social Care, which has been collating data about the app since it was launched in September 2020.

Over 1.7 million app users across England and Wales have been advised to isolate by the NHS COVID-19 app following a close contact with someone who goes on to test positive, new data published today shows.

The NHS COVID-19 app has been breaking chains of transmission to protect users and their communities since its launch in September.

Like other apps that take advantage of the anonymized Exposure Notification API from Apple and Google, NHS COVID-19 is designed to track who people come into contact with each other using Bluetooth, providing a notification if one of those people later comes down with the coronavirus.

Along with using a Bluetooth-based solution, NHS COVID-19 lets users scan QR codes to register visits to locations like stores and restaurants to aid in contact tracing, with U.K. businesses being encouraged to display QR posters for visitors to scan.

According to the press release, the app has now been downloaded 21.63 million times, representing 56% of the eligible population aged 16+ with a smartphone and was the second most downloaded free iPhone app on the App Store in 2020.

However, only about 16.5 million people are currently actively using the contact-tracing tool, which is 24% below the app's latest download tally. The difference is likely due to users uninstalling the app, disabling contact-tracing, or not activating it all.

Research conducted by scientists at The Alan Turing Institute and Oxford University shows for every 1% increase in app users, the number of coronavirus cases in the population can be reduced by 2.3%.

Research by the Turing/Oxford team into the epidemiological impact of the app also points to a causal link between app use and reduced case numbers, with their analysis suggesting the NHS COVID-19 app has prevented 600,000 cases since it was launched.

"The NHS COVID-19 app is an important tool in our pandemic response," said Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock. "We know it has instructed hundreds of thousands of at-risk people to self-isolate since it launched in September – including me – and this analysis shows it has been hugely effective at breaking chains of transmission, preventing an estimated 600,000 cases."

The NHS did not initially plan to use Apple and Google's ‌‌Exposure Notification‌‌ API and was instead pursuing a different solution, but after the announcement of the API the NHS changed course and decided to work on an app using the Apple/Google API after all.

Zuhlke UK, the firm behind the contact tracing app, told the BBC that despite the positive signs shown in the number of downloads of the app, it was essential for users to start re-activating its features as lockdown measures gradually eased.

"The data suggests that we have made a dent in the overall infection rate," said Wolfgang Emmerich, chief executive of Zuhlke UK.

"What we really have to do now, particularly as we're preparing to come out of lockdown, is to drive that adoption rate back up and to get people to switch [the app] back on again."

Emmerich also told the BBC that his team had put plans to extend the app to older ‌iPhone‌ models on the back burner so as to prioritize other new features, but declined to say what they are.

Note: Due to the political or social nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Political News forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

Top Rated Comments

Wando64 Avatar
20 months ago
"...only about 16.5 million people are currently actively using the contact-tracing tool, which is 24% below the app's latest download tally. The difference is likely due to users uninstalling the app, disabling contact-tracing, or not activating it all."

If YOU don't use the Contact Tracing App, YOU are part of the problem. Stop making excuses and be part of the solution instead. It is not a perfect tool, but it is the one we have.
Score: 18 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Eddy Munn Avatar
20 months ago
This app is so much better than the one they originally wanted to build!
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Bazooka-joe Avatar
20 months ago
Before lockdown my local pub would not allow anyone in unless they actually had the app and scanned in.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
mctrials23 Avatar
20 months ago

That is a bit of the problem now, very few people are going to places that require you to have it. I haven’t actually opened the app for months.
Whats that got to do with it. It works in the background. I haven't opened it since last summer when I needed it to get into pubs etc but I still get a monthly notification that its still tracking and checking.

The issue is that far too many people in the UK are selfish ***** who wouldn't isolate even if they got a notification. They did a (somewhat limited) survey recently and found that something like 13% of people would get on a plane with COVID symptoms.

The last year has shown me how truly selfish a lot of people are.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
iphonehype Avatar
20 months ago

Whats that got to do with it. It works in the background. I haven't opened it since last summer when I needed it to get into pubs etc but I still get a monthly notification that its still tracking and checking.

The issue is that far too many people in the UK are selfish ***** who wouldn't isolate even if they got a notification. They did a (somewhat limited) survey recently and found that something like 13% of people would get on a plane with COVID symptoms.

The last year has shown me how truly selfish a lot of people are.
I blame the UK Government for the way they've handled this from the beginning. This does does not excuse people for selfishness, but I don't think the problem would be as bad as it is now, if the UK Gov sorted themselves out.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
JW313 Avatar
20 months ago
When critical thinking skills are not encouraged, people will obey their phones over living life.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Related Stories

iOS App Store General Feature Dock

Indie Developer Dogged By Scammy Clone Apps Again Highlights the Holes in Apple's App Store Review Process

Monday February 21, 2022 9:29 am PST by
Apps that copy concepts and features from other apps are nothing new in the ‌App Store‌, but scammy like-for-like clones of genuine apps remain a perennial problem that Apple still hasn't resolved, as indie developer Kevin Archer recently discovered. Archer is responsible for 2Stable's Authenticator App, a feature-rich app that stores and generates secure two-factor authentication tokens...
covid 19 vaccination card wallet app

iOS 15.4 Will Let EU Residents Add COVID-19 Vaccine Certificates to Wallet App

Friday January 28, 2022 12:00 am PST by
Apple on Thursday seeded the first beta of iOS 15.4, and one of the software update's new features will be the ability for COVID-19 vaccination records in the EU Digital COVID Certificate format to be added to the Health and Wallet apps. When iOS 15.4 is released, users will be able to add a EU Digital COVID Certificate to the Health and Wallet apps by opening the Camera app, scanning the...
craig wwdc 2021 privacy

Report Highlights How Top Apple Executives Disagreed Over How Far iOS Anti-Tracking Measures Should Go

Monday March 14, 2022 7:19 am PDT by
A new report has highlighted how three top prominent executives initially found themselves at odds in early deliberations about Apple's App Tracking Transparency framework. According to the report from The Information, the executives who disagreed over how far Apple should go in protecting user privacy in digital advertising included Apple's Craig Federighi, who oversees software...
red apple store logo 2021

Apple Supports World AIDS Day With Red Logo at Stores and Apple Pay Promotion

Tuesday November 30, 2021 6:43 am PST by
In what has become an annual tradition, select Apple Store locations are now displaying a red Apple logo in support of World AIDS Day on December 1, such as Apple Nanjing East in Shanghai and Apple Ginza in Tokyo, with other locations likely to follow. Photo shared by Shanghai Daily via Storeller Apple has also announced that, now through December 6, it will donate $1 for every purchase made...
iOS 15

Apple Releases iOS 15.4 and iPadOS 15.4 With Face ID Mask Unlock, New Emoji, Universal Control, and More

Monday March 14, 2022 9:45 am PDT by
Apple today released iOS 15.4 and iPadOS 15.4, the fourth major updates to the iOS and iPadOS 15 operating systems that were released in September 2021. iOS and iPadOS 15.4 come a month after the launch of iOS 15.3.1 and iPadOS 15.3.1. The iOS 15.4 and iPadOS 15.4 updates can be downloaded for free and the software is available on all eligible devices over-the-air in the Settings app. To...
Whatsapp Feature

WhatsApp Now Hides Your 'Last Seen' Status From Strangers

Tuesday December 14, 2021 1:00 am PST by
WhatsApp has made a privacy change to prevent people on the messaging platform from viewing the "Last Seen" status of users whom they have never chatted with, according to the latest report from independent feature specialist WABetaInfo. As regular WhatsApp users will know, the "Last Seen" status of a contact sits atop the conversation thread, informing you when that contact last opened the...
iOS App Store General Feature Dock 2

Apple Defends App Store Changes in the Netherlands as Fines Reach €30 Million

Monday February 28, 2022 9:32 am PST by
Amid an ongoing dispute with the Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) in the Netherlands over the App Store, Apple has defended its plan to require app developers to submit an additional app binary for the Dutch storefront if they wish to use a third-party payment processing method. The ACM has ruled that Apple must allow dating apps in the Netherlands to use third-party payment...
Exposure Notifications W People and Text

Apple Blocks Update to UK NHS Contact Tracing App for Breaking Location Data Collection Rules

Monday April 12, 2021 4:32 am PDT by
Apple and Google have blocked an update to England and Wales' contact tracing app that included a feature that would have collected user location data, breaking the companies' terms and conditions for contact tracing apps, the BBC reports. Last year, Apple and Google partnered up to announce a COVID-19 contact tracing API that allows apps to track whether someone has been in contact with an...

Popular Stories

iPhone 14 Pro Lineup Feature Purple

Apple Planning to Hold iPhone 14 Event on September 7

Wednesday August 17, 2022 9:51 am PDT by
Apple is aiming to hold its first fall event on Wednesday, September 7, reports Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. The event will focus on the iPhone 14 models and the Apple Watch Series 8. The standard iPhone 14 models are expected to get few changes, but the iPhone 14 Pro models will include updated camera technology, the removal of the notch in favor of a pill-shaped and hole-punch cutout, an A16...
iOS 15

Apple Releases iOS 15.6.1 and iPadOS 15.6.1 With Bug Fixes

Wednesday August 17, 2022 9:50 am PDT by
Apple today released iOS and iPadOS 15.6.1, minor updates to the iOS and iPadOS 15 operating systems initially released in September 2021. iOS 15.6.1 and iPadOS 15.6.1 come a month after Apple released iOS 15.6 and iPadOS 15.6 with new Live Sports features and bug fixes. The iOS 15.6.1 and iPadOS 15.6.1 updates can be downloaded for free and the software is available on all eligible devices...
tiktok logo

TikTok's In-App Browser Reportedly Capable of Monitoring Anything You Type

Thursday August 18, 2022 4:25 pm PDT by
TikTok's custom in-app browser on iOS reportedly injects JavaScript code into external websites that allows TikTok to monitor "all keyboard inputs and taps" while a user is interacting with a given website, according to security researcher Felix Krause, but TikTok has reportedly denied that the code is used for malicious reasons. Krause said TikTok's in-app browser "subscribes" to all...
airpods pro black background

AirPods Pro 2: Five New Features and Improvements to Expect

Sunday August 14, 2022 3:28 pm PDT by
Apple's second-generation AirPods Pro are finally nearing launch, with a release expected later this year. If you are considering upgrading to the new AirPods Pro once they are released, keep reading for a list of five new features to expect. In addition to all-new features, the second-generation AirPods Pro will likely adopt some features added to the standard AirPods last year. H2 Chip ...
ipados 16 stage manager

Apple Criticized for 'Fundamentally Misguided' Approach to Stage Manager in iPadOS 16

Friday August 19, 2022 1:57 am PDT by
Stage Manager in the iPadOS 16 beta is receiving heavy criticism for being "fundamentally misguided" in its approach to bringing a new level of multitasking to the iPad experience, with some even calling on Apple to delay the feature entirely due to its shortcomings. Federico Viticci, the founder and editor in chief of MacStories and a prominent member of the Apple community, outlined his...
M2 Pro and Max Feature

3nm M2 Pro Chip for MacBook Pro Reportedly Entering Production Later This Year

Thursday August 18, 2022 7:39 am PDT by
TSMC will begin production of 3nm chips for Apple by the end of 2022, according to a report this week from Taiwan's Commercial Times. A separate report from the publication claimed that TSMC will begin mass production of 3nm chips in September. The report, citing industry insiders, claims that the M2 Pro chip may be the first to use TSMC's advanced 3nm process. Bloomberg's Mark Gurman...