NHS Coronavirus Contact Tracking Application to Launch TOMORROW on the Isle of Wight

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NHSX app to launch tomorrow for Isle of Wight health workers

NHSX app to launch tomorrow for Isle of Wight health workers

The NHS contact tracking app, which is considered essential to help the UK out of the coronavirus lockdown, will be available to medical staff in the Isle of Wight starting tomorrow.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock announced today that the first public tests will begin Tuesday afternoon on the autonomous island of 140,000 people.

The app will work using Bluetooth and will alert people if they have been in close contact with someone who later fell ill with COVID-19.

It is intended to stop further virus outbreaks and prevent people from spreading the virus without realizing they have it, as well as to alert authorities to local case groups.

Hancock said it was used on the Isle of Wight because the fact that the population is small and cut off from the mainland meant that the experiment could be carried out under “appropriate scientifically controlled conditions”.

If the test on the island succeeds, the government plans to roll out the app to everyone across the UK as a crucial part of its “test, track and trace” plan to keep the country out locking in the future as it adapts to life with the virus.

Deputy Chief Physician Professor Jonathan Van-Tam said today: “It is very unlikely that the COVID-19 virus will go away … therefore testing and contact tracing should be part of our daily lives. in the future ‘.

Experts say 60% or more of the population will need to download the app for it to work properly. Government figures have not set an adoption target, but will encourage anyone who can to download the app as soon as it is available, using the mantra “download the app, protect the NHS , save lives. “

The app will depend on the honesty of people when they feel sick – data must be entered into the app by the user. It is unclear what will constitute close enough contact for someone to be warned that they are at risk. The World Health Organization’s rule is 15 minutes to less than six and a half (2 m), but the Department of Health has said that a “complex risk algorithm” would dictate who would be warned.

The Isle of Wight program will continue for approximately two weeks to verify that the system is working and that people are downloading and using it properly. If successful, the app will begin to be used on the British mainland from mid-May, the Department of Health said, while continuing on the Isle of Wight.

But there is concern that the data collected by the NHS application is vulnerable, as officials have chosen to store it on a central database on NHS servers.

Some other countries, including Switzerland and Germany, use technology that stores all the data on someone’s phone and never submits it to the authorities.

The CEO of NHSX, the digital branch of health services, said today that he could not confirm exactly who would have access to the data collected by the NHS app, only saying that an organization must have a reason for health public valid to access it. He insisted that the app will never download private information, such as someone’s name or address.

The app has also failed tests it must pass to be officially listed on the NHS app store, including cybersecurity, according to an NHS official in the Health Service Journal.

It is said to be below normal standards required by the NHS to officially release an application for mobile users, and has failed to meet expectations for cybersecurity, performance and “clinical security”. It is not clear how exactly these measures failed.

The Ministry of Health disputed the reports and called them “factually false”, insisting that the application is accelerated, has not failed any test and will go through normal approval channels after its deployment to Isle of Wight.

People will be asked to give the first half of their postal code so that the NHS can collect vague and anonymous data - at the city or village level - about where coronavirus outbreaks occur

If a person has been close to a person who is later believed to be ill with COVID-19, they will receive an anonymous alert that they are at risk

People will be asked to give the first half of their postal code so that the NHS can collect vague and anonymous data – at the city or village level – about where the coronavirus epidemics appear (left photo). If someone has been close to someone who is later believed to be sick with COVID-19, they will receive an anonymous alert that they are at risk (right)

People eligible for the app will receive a download link when it becomes available so they can start using

It will be based on people who state precisely whether they are sick or not, or whether their test is positive. Contacts will be advised to self-isolate while someone is being tested

Those eligible for the app will receive a download link when it is available so they can start using it. It will rely on people who state precisely whether they are sick or not, or whether their test is positive. Contacts will be advised to self-isolate while someone is being tested

The download and use of the app will be voluntary, but officials hope a large number of people will be persuaded to participate in the hope of lifting movement restrictions.

OPERATION OF THE APP: STEP BY STEP

  1. The user will download the application on their smartphone as soon as it is available in their region.
  2. To register, a person must enter the first half of their postal code, which indicates the city or borough in which they live.
  3. They will then be asked if they have another continuous cough or fever – the two main signs of COVID-19. Otherwise, nothing will happen. If so, they will be told to order a coronavirus test.
  4. The user will be asked to keep their Bluetooth turned on at all times and the app will run in the background without doing anything.
  5. When they exit, the app keeps a log each time it is within Bluetooth range of another phone with the app. This will be anonymous, each application being registered with a code rather than with a person or an address.
  6. If and when someone develops COVID-19 symptoms, they will be helped to order a test via the application and each code with which their application has recorded contact will be notified of a potential infection in their network. People with these codes will need to self-isolate until the test result returns.
  7. If the result is positive, anyone who receives an alert because they have been close to the patient will be asked to isolate themselves for at least seven days and order a test if they start to feel sick.
  8. If the result is negative, everyone will be asked to continue normally.

Notes: The app will rely on honest people to find out if they are sick.

It is unclear what will constitute close enough contact for someone to be aware of a possible COVID-19 infection. The general rule of thumb is that if you are within 6’6 ”(2m) of a person for 15 minutes or more, but the Department of Health has stated that a” complex risk algorithm “would decide.

NHS and Isle of Wight council staff will receive a download link by email tomorrow, and Isle of Wight residents will receive letters in the mail with instructions on how to get the app Thursday .

It is being tested on the Isle of Wight because it is a small, self-contained community that is easier to control, said Hancock. The first tests were carried out on an even smaller autonomous community at RAF Leeming, an air base in North Yorkshire, and are now being expanded.

Mr Hancock said that on the Isle of Wight it could be tested under “scientific” conditions because people cannot come and go freely – there is no bridge or tunnel between the Isle and mainland Britain.

It will be easier for civil servants to have a clear idea of ​​the proportion of the population who have downloaded the application and to obtain tests quickly for large parts of the communities.

However, confidentiality issues have been raised regarding the operation of the application.

Dr. Michael Veale, professor of digital rights at University College London, said on BBC Radio 4 this morning: “One thing people have to do is have a deep confidence that this data will not be used badly. wisely or that the system will not slowly turn into something it starts to identify people more individually.

The NHSX application focuses on a centralized approach in which all interactions between people are recorded over the phone and then, if someone is reported as a coronavirus patient, referred to a server managed by the NHS.

NHSX is on an offensive to allay people’s concerns about privacy and insists that no personal information will be collected. Persons will be identified by codes which are not linked to their name or address.

Instead, the app will keep a log of Bluetooth connections between codes and, when one of the codes is upgraded to signify that the patient connected to it has tested positive or has become ill (this will be done by the user via the application), other codes which had been in contact with it will be alerted anonymously.

All connections – which will look like a series of pairs of numbers, with a common number – will then be uploaded to a central NHS database and stored.

NHSX CEO Matthew Gould confirmed that the app will not collect any specific personal data from users such as their name or address.

FILE OF THE ISLE OF WIGHT

The Isle of Wight is an island off the south coast of England, linked by ferry to Portsmouth and Southampton.

The island has about 141,000 residents.

More than a quarter of all residents (27.3%) are over the age of 65, and this proportion is increasing. It is one of the oldest communities in England and Wales.

Its largest city is Newport and has only 18,700 residents. Only three cities on the island have more than 10,000 inhabitants.

One in six houses is occupied by a person over 65 living alone.

The Isle of Wight is off the coast of Portsmouth and Southampton

The Isle of Wight is off the coast of Portsmouth and Southampton

The vast majority of Islanders are white and British – 94.8%, compared to 85.9% in England. Just under two percent are “other whites,” while just over one percent are Asian.

Bob Seely MBE is the MP for the island. He is a member of the Conservative Party and has been in office since 2017. The Conservatives also have a majority on the borough council.

He said, “The app is designed so that you don’t have to give it your personal information to use it – it asks for the first half of your zip code, but only that.

“You can use it without giving any other personal information – it doesn’t know who you are, it doesn’t know who you’ve been close to, it doesn’t know where you were. “

But experts say this level of data collection – tracking the movements of an unchanging number and linking it to others – is fraught with pitfalls.

It is possible that if the data were hacked, one of the codes – the identification code of each person remains the same over time – could be linked to a person if the hacker could locate the code and the person at the same place. This could then be used to track them repeatedly when registering their Bluetooth to other places.

The NHS is now faced with questions as to why it should develop the app in this way as other countries try to take a more privacy-focused approach.

Google and Apple have successfully developed software that performs the same function but in a way that contains all the data needed in someone’s phone and does not need a server. Other countries, including Germany and Switzerland, are using this approach.

Because no movement or tracking information is stored on a central server, it would be invisible to Google, Apple and the NHS and there would be nothing to hack.

This technology works by exchanging a digital “token” with each phone someone has within Bluetooth range for a specified period of time.

If a person develops symptoms of the coronavirus or is positive, they can enter this information in the application.

The phone will then send a notification to all devices with which they have exchanged tokens during the infection window, to inform people that they may have been exposed to COVID-19.

The process is limited to the individual’s handset and the scope of information sent to the NHS is strictly limited.

Experts are concerned that the system could be used to label people as infected or at risk in a way that other people could see, which means they could be discriminated against.

Dr. Veale said, “We have seen in China the red, yellow, green traffic light system -” are you able to enter this building or work “- and a centralized system is really just a few steps from creating this kind of persistent identifiers that allow you to make this kind of approach.

“Whereas a decentralized system really does proximity tracking and does no more than that. People can trust this technically.

With the NHS approach, people will have to trust health services and therefore the government with their personal information.

HOW IS THE NHS APP DIFFERENT FROM THE APPLE AND GOOGLE APP?

The application technologies developed by Google / Apple and the NHS are based on the same principle – they keep track of the people with whom someone came into close contact – but the way they store data is the main difference. The NHS stores information in a centralized database, while the Google / Apple application is decentralized.

NHS application: lists on NHS servers

The NHSX application creates an alert whenever two users of the application are within Bluetooth range of each other and save it to the user’s phone.

Each person will essentially make a list of all the people with whom they have been in “contact”. This will be anonymized so that the lists will actually be only numbers or codes, not lists of names or addresses.

If a person is diagnosed with coronavirus or reports symptoms, all users of the application they were close to during the time they were considered infectious – this will vary from person to person – will receive an alert informing him that he has been put at risk of COVID-19 – but he will not name the person who has been diagnosed.

NHSX insists that it will delete people’s data when they get rid of the app.

Apple / Google: content on phones

In the decentralized approach of Apple and Google, meanwhile, the server and list item for this process is removed and the entire log is contained in someone’s phone.

This application works by exchanging a digital “token” with each phone that someone is within Bluetooth range over a fixed period.

If a person develops symptoms of the coronavirus or is positive, they can enter this information in the application.

The phone will then send a notification to all devices with which they have exchanged tokens during the infection window, to inform people that they may have been exposed to COVID-19.

The server database will not be necessary since each phone will keep an individual log of Bluetooth profiles with which someone has been close. These will then be linked anonymously to people’s NHS applications and alerts can be transmitted through this even after the person is out of Bluetooth range.

It is understood that if someone later deletes the Google / Apple application and closes their account, their data will be deleted.

Will the NHS benefit from central data?

If the NHS collects the data, it may be able to use it as part of larger contact tracing efforts as well as detect local outbreaks using location data.

In the future, if someone is diagnosed with COVID-19, members of an army of 18,000 “contact tracers” will be responsible for determining who else this patient has come into contact with and is at risk. .

It is not known to what extent human contact tracers will have access to the data collected via the application.

The human rights group Amnesty International has alarmed this prospect.

Scientists have said they are concerned about the “mission shift” in which people are told that data will be used for one thing, but those controlling the data decide to use it for something else.

Amnesty International UK director Kate Allen said the government should consider decentralized application models where contact tracing data stays on the user’s device.

However, officials say they maintain strict privacy policies while collecting anonymous data on the number of coronavirus cases in certain regions, which could help hospitals plan outbreaks, for example.

Allen said: “We are extremely concerned that the government plans to route private data through a central database, opening the door to ubiquitous state surveillance and invasion of privacy, with potentially harmful effects. discriminatory.

“Ministers should rather examine decentralized models of privacy protection such as those which many European governments are pursuing.

“In these extraordinary times, contact tracing applications and other technologies could potentially be useful tools in responding to COVID-19, but our privacy and rights must not become another victim of the virus.

Dr. Veale also highlighted the benefits of the decentralized model, adding, “In the Apple and Google approach … you don’t need to trust Apple and Google with your data because it never leaves your device.

“It removes the need for an identifiable central database of any kind. It is used in Switzerland, Austria, Germany, Estonia and also in Ireland. “

The app will be a crucial part of the government’s three-point test, follow-up and follow-up plan to help the country recover from its current crisis.

This will work by officials closely monitoring where and when new cases and epidemics of the virus appear and isolating people to eradicate them.

First, anyone suspected of being infected with the virus will be tested – there are currently limits on who can get tested, but these should be lifted by the time the country comes out of the lockout.

If someone has a positive result, they will be told to isolate themselves as long as they are in good health and do not need hospital care.

Their households will have to isolate themselves with them, then the government “contact tracers” will work to establish a social network around the patient.

This will involve determining who has come into close enough contact with the patient to risk becoming infected with COVID-19.

Everyone in this social network will then be asked to self-isolate until they are sure they are virus-free or until they are diagnosed. If they are positive, the same procedure for contact tracing will start for them.

The app will be an essential part of this contact-finding effort, as it can alert people that the patient may have endangered without their knowing it – in a store or doctor’s office, for example.

Cybersecurity and human rights experts are also concerned about the “mission swipe” in which the application starts for one purpose, but officials then decide to use its data for something else.

Professor Mark Ryan, professor of computer security at the University of Birmingham, said: “Everyone agrees that proximity tracking is an essential part of the fight against COVIDs and the end of foreclosure.

“However, we need to be sure that proximity tracking technology does not lead to unhindered monitoring of people’s movements and activities.

“To this end, we ask the government to publish the open source code of the applications and server processes that will be used.

“Remember, unlike surveillance cases to combat terrorism or other crimes, there is no secrecy requirement regarding the strategies and technologies used against COVID.”

The information collected by the app will also allow the government to know where the virus is spreading.

As officials continue to monitor the virus in the future, they will need to try to determine how many people who have had COVID-19 in the past and have recovered.

Deployment of “immunity passports” is being considered by ministers as part of the government’s attempts to get Britain back to work after the easing of the coronavirus lockdown.

The ministers are said to be in talks with tech companies over the development of a form of digital ID that would verify who is someone and whether they have been tested for the disease.

Passports could be based on antigen tests that show if someone currently has a coronavirus or on antibody tests that show if someone has it.

Digital documents would show if someone gave a negative test for an antigen or if they showed some resistance to the coronavirus after an antibody test, showing an employer that it is safe to go back on the job. workplace.

Such a regime could be a game-changer for ministers as they try to figure out how to revive the British economy.

But the World Health Organization has warned against these immunity passports because scientists are not sure if people actually become immune after an illness.

In a statement, the WHO said, “There is currently no evidence that people who have recovered from COVID-19 and who have antibodies are protected from a second infection. “

Boris Johnson is expected to unveil his exit strategy from a lockout in a nationwide address on Sunday after delaying Thursday’s announcement as frantic work continues in Whitehall.

Today, it has become apparent that plans to cut offices, close elevators and canteens, and tape the floor to indicate where people should stand are all being proposed by the government as part of the plans. office restoration.

HOW WILL CONTACT TRACING WORK?

Contact tracking is considered to be one of the many possible remedies to help the UK break out of the lockout, and a trial application is now ready. Here it will work:

What is contact tracking?

Contact tracing is a way to follow social networks around people so that when one of them is diagnosed with COVID-19, the others can be warned that they may be at risk.

This is to prevent people from spreading the virus without realizing that they could be infectious.

The British government is working on an army of 18,000 human contact tracers that will interview COVID-19 patients, as well as the application that will record connections in the background.

Why is the trial taking place on the Isle of Wight?

The app is being tested on the Isle of Wight because it is a small, self-contained community that is easier to control, said Hancock.

He claimed it could be tested there under “scientifically controlled conditions” because people cannot come and go freely – there is no bridge or tunnel between the island and mainland Britain .

It will be easier for civil servants to have a clear idea of ​​the proportion of the population who have downloaded the application and to obtain tests quickly for large parts of the communities.

How will the application work?

Once installed and configured, the app will run in the background, keeping a log of everyone you come across.

Users will need to provide the first part of their zip code and authorize the app to use Bluetooth, as well as its ability to receive notifications.

Bluetooth should stay on.

When a person is not feeling well, they should send a report indicating whether they are experiencing a high temperature and a continuous cough and when these symptoms started. If it looks like they might have the virus, the person will be asked to book a test.

The information is then downloaded, along with the last 28 days of proximity events, and fed into a complex risk algorithm that analyzes data such as distance, duration and symptoms.

He will only inform those deemed to be at risk of isolation for 14 days and ask them to monitor their symptoms.

If the person’s results come back negative, those who have contacted them will be informed that they are able to break out of isolation.

But if the result is positive, the person will have to self-isolate for seven days, while those who have come into contact with him will continue to self-isolate and will book their own test if they have any symptoms.

What will constitute close enough contact for a person to be notified?

The Department of Health has said that a “complex risk algorithm” will be used to dictate who has been in enough contact to be notified. On ne sait pas comment cela est calculé.

La règle de l’Organisation mondiale de la santé est qu’une personne est à risque si elle a passé 15 minutes à moins de 6 pieds et demi (2 m), mais le niveau de contact peut changer cela. Par exemple, un contact physique nécessitera probablement moins de temps d’exposition que le covoiturage pour produire le même risque.

L’application de suivi des contrats sera-t-elle efficace et quand le reste du Royaume-Uni l’obtiendra-t-elle?

L’application a d’abord été testée sur le personnel de RAF Leeming et de la base aérienne du North Yorkshire, où les essais se sont «bien déroulés». Le suivi des contacts dépend vraiment de plusieurs facteurs cruciaux – bien que le patron du NHSX, Matthew Gould, ait prévenu que ce ne serait pas une «solution miracle».

« L’application est excitante, mais ce n’est pas non plus une solution miracle ou une solution autonome, elle fait partie de cette stratégie plus large … elle doit être considérée comme faisant partie de cette stratégie parallèlement à l’expansion des tests et du suivi des contacts humains », a-t-il déclaré. .

L’application est également volontaire, son efficacité dépendra donc du nombre de personnes qui l’utilisent réellement.

S’il s’avère utilisable et que son adoption est bonne dans le procès de l’île de Wight, il devrait être déployé dans le reste du Royaume-Uni à la mi-mai, a déclaré le ministère de la Santé.

Et si les gens n’enregistrent pas lorsqu’ils développent une toux?

L’application s’appuiera sur des personnes honnêtes quand elles pensent avoir des symptômes du coronavirus et quel est le résultat de leur test. Ceux-ci doivent être enregistrés sur l’application par l’utilisateur, car le NHS ne liera pas l’application aux dossiers des patients ni même au nom de quelqu’un. Les personnes malhonnêtes au sujet de leur santé risquent de mettre d’autres personnes à risque de COVID-19.

Source: Association de presse

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