How the NHS COVID-19 app will work

24 September 2020, 06:00 | Updated: 24 September 2020, 08:28

The new NHS app launches this week - here's what it does and how it can help protect you and your family.

The NHS COVID-19 app
The NHS COVID-19 app. Picture: Getty Creative Images
  1. How does the NHS COVID-19 app work?

    The app shows you the risk level in your local area, based on the postcode district you enter when you download it. The app lets you know anonymously if you have been in close contact with someone who has coronavirus, so you can take the right action to protect your friends and family by stopping further spread.

    The app will help the NHS understand if the virus is spreading in a particular area, and allow local authorities to respond quickly to stop it spreading further and save lives.

    The NHS COVID-19 app
    The NHS COVID-19 app. Picture: NHS
  2. Where is the NHS COVID-19 app available from?

    The app can be downloaded from the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store. For Apple phones, you will need versions 13.5 or higher. Android phones will need Marshmallow or version 6.0 or higher.

    The NHS COVID-19 app
    The NHS COVID-19 app. Picture: NHS
  3. How will the NHS COVID-19 app help control Coronavirus?

    The new app is the fastest way to see if you are at risk of Coronavirus: the sooner you know, the sooner you can alert friends and family and help control Coronavirus.

  4. Can the NHS COVID-19 app be used at restaurants or pubs?

    There is a built-in QR code scanner to check in at such venues. At the moment, you are asked to leave your name and contact number when arriving at a pub or restaurant, so you be contacted if there is an outbreak linked to that venue. However, you'll soon start seeing official NHS QR code posters in local businesses, meaning the app is the quickest and easiest way to now check-in, without having to fill out forms or pass on your details.

    Contacless payment at a pub
    Contacless payment at a pub. Picture: Getty Images
  5. How much does the NHS COVID-19 app cost?

    The app is free, and is available for download in England and Wales from 24 September.

  6. Can the app tell me if I have coronavirus symptoms?

    If you feel unwell, you can use the app to check if your symptoms could be related to Coronavirus (COVID-19). The app will give you a list of potential symptoms, and you can then choose the ones that apply to you. It will then tell you if your symptoms suggest you have coronavirus.

  7. Can I order a Coronavirus (COVID-19) test through the app?

    If you have coronavirus, the app will take you to a website where you can book a test to see if you have coronavirus or not.

    If you have been advised by the app to self-isolate, the app provides a countdown timer so that you can keep track of how long you need to self-isolate. At the end of the self-isolation period, the app will send you a notification reminder with a link to the latest advice for you.

  8. Is the NHS COVID-19 app confidential?

    The NHS COVID-19 app protects your privacy as it uses Apple and Google’s proven Bluetooth technology, designed so that nobody will know who or where you are. Any data shared with the app is only held on your phone, so if you decide to delete the app (which you can do at any time), all the data is deleted as well. The app cannot track your location – it doesn’t use GPS - check or monitor if you are self-isolating, or see personal information on your phone such as messages or contacts.

    Group of people using their smartphones in covid 19 times protected with face mask
    Group of people using their smartphones in covid 19 times protected with face mask. Picture: Getty Images
  9. Will the app drain my phone battery?

    For the NHS COVID-19 app to work, your Bluetooth needs to be turned on. This will have minimal impact on your battery as the app uses "Bluetooth Low Energy".

  10. Will the app alert others that I have tested positive for coronavirus?

    An app user who tests positive for coronavirus can choose if they want other app users to be alerted. A random unique ID will then be used to alert other app users who were in close contact with that person. This ensures that the positive user's privacy and identity is protected.

  11. Can I identify other app users who have tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19)?

    No - the app does not allow you to identify any app users that test positive for coronavirus. Random unique IDs are used to make sure that the identity and privacy of anyone using the app is protected.

  12. What is The Big App Download Weekend?

    The weekend of 25 to 27 September marks The Big App Download Weekend, where people from England and Wales will be coming together to download the app, to help protect loved ones and help stop the spread of coronavirus.

  13. Where can you get further information about the NHS COVID-19 app?

    For more information on the app, take a look at the official website at https://covid19.nhs.uk/