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
13 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
13 months ago
This app is so much better than the one they originally wanted to build!
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Bazooka-joe Avatar
13 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
13 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
13 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
13 months ago
When critical thinking skills are not encouraged, people will obey their phones over living life.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Related Stories

iata airline body

Airline Body IATA to Launch COVID-19 Travel Passport App in April

Wednesday March 31, 2021 5:16 am PDT by
The International Air Transport Association, or IATA, announced today that it plans to launch a digital travel passport for COVID-19 test results and vaccination certificates on Apple's App Store around April 15. As reported by Reuters, IATA has had the digital passport in development for the past few months and is currently undergoing beta testing. Initial plans called for the digital pass...
apple developer banner

Apple Says COVID 'Health Pass' Apps Are Limited to Developers Working With Public Health Authorities

Tuesday February 16, 2021 4:03 pm PST by
Apple today informed developers that "health pass" apps can only be submitted by developers that are working with recognized public health authorities. A "health pass" app is classified as an app that generates a pass that's used to enter buildings and access in-person services based on testing and vaccination records. Apple says that to make sure these apps are responsibly handling...
canadaexposurenotification

Canada's 'COVID Alert' App Using Apple's Exposure Notification API Now Available

Friday July 31, 2020 9:36 am PDT by
Canada today released a new COVID-19 contact tracing app called COVID Alert, as noted by iPhone in Canada. COVID Alert takes advantage of Apple and Google's privacy-focused Exposure Notification API to alert people when they've come into contact with someone who has the coronavirus. As with all COVID-19 contact tracing apps, COVID Alert uses Bluetooth to exchange random, anonymized codes...
app store blue banner

Judge Grills Tim Cook on App Store Policies as End of of Epic Games v. Apple Trial Approaches

Friday May 21, 2021 12:48 pm PDT by
Apple CEO Tim Cook testified in the Epic Games v. Apple trial today, and some of the final questioning by Judge Yvonne Gonzalez-Rogers did not appear to go in Apple's favor. She spent several minutes grilling Cook on Apple's App Store policies and some of the statements that he made. "You said you want to give users control, so what's the problem with allowing users to have a cheaper option...
apple maps covid airport info

Apple Maps Displays COVID-19 Guidelines for Airports Worldwide

Tuesday March 30, 2021 10:05 am PDT by
The Apple Maps app was this week updated with new COVID-19 guidelines for airports, providing iPhone, iPad, and Mac users with a quick look at COVID-19 travel requirements and easy access to each airport's full list of guidelines. Airport data is being provided by the Airports Council International, with the information displayed at the top of each airport card. The Airports Council...
XcodeGhost Featured1

'XcodeGhost' Malware Attack in 2015 Impacted 128 Million iOS Users, According to Trial Documents

Friday May 7, 2021 12:55 pm PDT by
Back in 2015, a malware-infected version of Xcode began circulating in China, and malware-ridden "XcodeGhost" apps made their way into Apple's App Store and past the App Store review team. There were more than 50 known infected iOS apps at the time, including major apps like WeChat, NetEase, and Didi Taxi, with up to 500 million iOS users potentially impacted. It's been a long time since the ...
iphone12 lineup wide

Foxconn's iPhone 12 Output in India Hit By Local Lockdowns

Tuesday May 11, 2021 3:23 am PDT by
iPhone 12 production at a Foxconn factory in India has been cut by more than 50% amid a lockdown, and multiple reported cases of COVID-19 infections for workers at the plant, according to a new report from Reuters. The main factory located in Tamil Nadu, a state under extreme lockdown measures, has been forced to significantly cut back on production. According to sources who spoke to Reuters,...
apple maps vaccinations

Apple Maps Displays COVID-19 Vaccination Locations in United States

Tuesday March 16, 2021 12:10 pm PDT by
Apple today updated its Maps app to display nearby COVID-19 vaccine providers across the United States to make it easier for people to find an appropriate location to receive the vaccination when eligible. Vaccine location listings include operating hours, address, phone number, and a link to the provider's website where Apple Maps users can get more information about available vaccines and...

Popular Stories

airpodsinear 1

AirPods Save Woman's Life With Feature Everyone Should Know

Friday January 21, 2022 2:13 am PST by
Apple's AirPods have been credited with saving a woman's life after a potentially fatal fall, People reports. When a 60-year-old florist in New Jersey tripped and hit her head in her studio, she lost consciousness and awoke heavily bleeding. With nobody around to call for help, she realized she had her AirPods in, and used a "Hey Siri" command to call 911. An operator was able to stay on the ...
iphone 13 earpods

Apple to Stop Including EarPods With Every iPhone Sold in France From Next Week

Friday January 21, 2022 3:21 am PST by
Apple will no longer include EarPods with every iPhone sold in France, starting on January 24, according to a notice posted by a French carrier (via iGeneration). Apple was previously required to include EarPods in the box with the iPhone due to a French law that required every smartphone sold in the country to come with a "handsfree kit," but the law has now been changed in favor of reducing the ...
peloton tv workout cardio

Apple Floated as Potential Buyer of Peloton

Friday January 21, 2022 6:11 am PST by
Following months of bleak news about Peloton's "precarious state," including the revelation that it has halted production of its bikes and treadmills, Apple is being floated as a potential buyer of Peloton's troubled fitness business. Yesterday, CNBC reported that Peloton will temporarily stop production of its connected fitness products due to a "significant reduction" in consumer demand, a ...
Questionable Design Decisions

Apple's Most Questionable Design Decisions in Recent Memory

Sunday January 23, 2022 2:59 am PST by
Apple has always emphasized the depth of thought that goes into the design of its products. In the foreword to Designed by Apple in California, a photo book released by the company in 2016, Jony Ive explains how Apple strives "to define objects that appear effortless" and "so simple, coherent and inevitable that there could be no rational alternative." But every once in a while even Apple...
Spring 2022 Apple Products Feature

New iPad Air, Macs, and iPhone SE With 5G Likely to Be Announced at Apple Event This Spring

Thursday January 20, 2022 8:32 am PST by
Earlier this week, Bloomberg's Mark Gurman tweeted that Apple "will be holding a spring event" to announce a new iPhone SE and other hardware. In a recent edition of his newsletter, Gurman said the event is likely to occur in March or April. Gurman did not elaborate on what "other hardware" will be announced at Apple's purported spring event, but rumors suggest at least four products are...
Upcoming Products 2022 Feature

Gurman: Apple Preparing 'Widest Array of New Hardware Products in Its History' for Fall

Sunday January 23, 2022 10:32 am PST by
Apple is working on a number of new products that are set to launch this fall, and Bloomberg's Mark Gurman says that it will be "the widest array" of new devices that Apple has introduced in its history. In his latest "Power On" newsletter, Gurman explains that Apple is working on four new flagship iPhones (iPhone 14, iPhone 14 Max, iPhone 14 Pro, and iPhone 14 Pro Max), an updated low-end Ma...
apple watch series 7 aluminum colors yellowbg

Apple Watch Charging Bug Fixed in watchOS 8.4 Release Candidate

Thursday January 20, 2022 4:01 pm PST by
The watchOS 8.4 release candidate that was seeded to developers and beta testers this morning addresses an ongoing bug that could cause some Apple Watch chargers not to work properly with the Apple Watch. Back in December, we reported on a growing number of charging issues that Apple Watch Series 7 owners were facing. Since watchOS 8.3, there have been a number of complaints about...
safari icon blue banner

macOS Monterey 12.2 and iOS 15.3 Release Candidates Fix Safari Bug That Leaks Browsing Activity

Thursday January 20, 2022 1:30 pm PST by
The macOS Monterey 12.2 and iOS 15.3 release candidates that came out today appear to address a Safari bug that could cause your recent browsing history and details about your identity to be leaked to malicious entities. As shared last week by browser fingerprinting service FingerprintJS, there is an issue with the WebKit implementation of the IndexedDB JavaScript API. Any website that uses...
apple college discounts

Apple Walks Back UNiDAYS Verification Requirement for U.S. Education Store

Friday January 21, 2022 12:43 pm PST by
Earlier this week, Apple began requiring that customers taking advantage of educational discounts in the United States verify their status as a teacher, student, or school staff member through UNiDAYS. The requirement was a major change as Apple had never asked customers to go through a verification process in the United States before, and now, just three days after verification was added,...