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Coronavirus: NHS contact tracing app to target 80% of smartphone users

BBC Technology 16 Apr 2020 11:00
By Leo Kelion Technology desk editor
Contact tracing graphic

A contact-tracing app could help stop the coronavirus pandemic, but 80% of current smartphone owners would need to use it, say experts advising the NHS.

The University of Oxford's Big Data Institute has modelled a city of one million people to simulate the software's impact.

If there is lower uptake, academics say the app would still help slow the spread of Covid-19.

They add that letting people self-diagnose the illness could be critical.

That means users would only have to answer an on-screen questionnaire before being judged to be at significant risk of infection. They would not have to speak to a health advisor or wait for a medical test result.

This would send a cascade of alerts to people they had recently been in proximity to, advising them to go back into self-isolation.

"There would be more people receiving notifications as a result of false warnings," explained Prof Christophe Fraser.

The over-70s have not been factored in, on the basis they would remain "shielded" by staying at home, he added.

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Prof FraserBig Data InstituteOxford UniversityNHSXProf Christophe Fraser
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