Below is the text of the speech made by Matt Hancock, the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, in the House of Commons on 5 May 2020.
Yesterday we launched the NHS covid-19 app (“the app”) for initial roll-out on the Isle of Wight over the next two weeks.
This is the first phase in the development and roll-out of a national “test and trace” programme which will bring together the app, expanded web and phone-based contact tracing, and swab testing for those with potential covid-19 symptoms. This is a vital part of our plans as we move towards the second phase in our battle against covid-19.
The app has been built by a team including world-leading doctors, scientists and tech experts. If someone installs the app, it will start logging the distance between their phone and other phones nearby that also have the app installed. If a person becomes unwell with symptoms of covid-19, they can report this through the app, which will then anonymously alert other app users that they have come into significant contact with over the previous few days and provide appropriate advice. The app, which takes full consideration of privacy and security, has already been tested in closed conditions at an RAF base.
This initial roll-out will provide valuable insights into how the public respond to and use the app and how we can improve it further. There will be no changes to social distancing measures during this initial roll-out phase.
Using the app is voluntary but the more residents who download the app, the more informed our national response will be. The Isle of Wight is leading the way for the UK, for which we thank them.
The more rapidly we can identify people at risk of infection and provide them with advice on what action they should take, the more effectively we can reduce the spread of the virus. The test and trace programme will play an increasingly important part in our wider strategy to save lives and protect the health and care system.
Further details of the national roll-out will be available soon.