Trials are beginning on a new coronavirus contact-tracing app which ministers say will save lives and help lift Britain out of lockdown.
The app is intended to alert users when they have come into contact with someone who has coronavirus symptoms and should seek a Covid-19 test.
NHS and council staff on the Isle of Wight are being urged to download the Covid-19 smartphone app from Tuesday with the rest of the island’s population invited to follow from Thursday.
For the app to be most effective, a majority of the population will need to download the app, but Health Secretary Matt Hancock told TV News info gathered will be useful even if a small number of people download it.
“Even with a relatively small number of people we’ll be able to see where the flare ups are in the virus across the country.”
But he believes the app will be widely downloaded because it is “good for you it keeps you safe, but its good for your neighbour, it’s good for your community”.
If the tests are successful it could be rolled out across the country within weeks as ministers seek to shape a strategy to allow some economic activity to resume, with the long-awaited “roadmap” for easing lockdown being published on Sunday.
The Sun reported that industry has been warned some social distancing measures will be required for between six months to a year, with growing fears among the Government’s medical advisers that the coronavirus is seasonal.
An industry source told the newspaper: “If it survives the winter, these measures will have to be in place longer.”
Chancellor Rishi Sunak said spending £8 billion on the furlough scheme to support workers through the pandemic was not “sustainable” which was why “as soon as the time is right, we want to get people back to work and the economy fired up again”.