UK’s National Health Service to Use Apple-Google API in COVID-19 Contact Tracing App

The UK public will soon be able to find out if they may have been in the vicinity of people unwell with coronavirus via a new contact-tracing app.

According to a new report from BBC, UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the National Health Service (NHS), along with Apple and Google, was launching an app that tells users if they’ve been in close proximity to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.

The app allows individuals who suspect themselves to have been infected by the coronavirus, to anonymously state their status in the app. This will prompt a yellow alert to other users who had been in close contact with the potentially infected person for an extended period. Individuals can also add inputs in the app if they test positive to the coronavirus, after which, users who had been in contact with the confirmed COVID-19 carrier will receive a red alert notification signaling them into quarantine.

“Today I wanted to outline the next step: a new NHS app for contact tracing. If you become unwell with the symptoms of coronavirus, you can securely tell this new NHS app and the app will then send an alert anonymously to other app users that you’ve been in significant contact with over the past few days, even before you had symptoms, so that they know and can act accordingly,” explained Hancock.

The NHS is coordinating with the “world’s leading tech companies” for the software, Hancock said.

Hancock said in a commitment to transparency, the source code will be published, and he sought to reassure people that data will not be held any longer than is necessary. “All data will be handled according to the highest ethical and security standards and would only be used for NHS care and research and we won’t hold it any longer than it’s needed,” he explained.

The NHSX, the digital unit of the health service, plans to test a prerelease version of the software at a certain location in the North of England next week, according to the BBC News report.

The news comes a few days after Google and Apple announced a collaboration to launch the API that would assist in enabling contact tracing.