Britons “panicked” by text from NHS contact tracers confirming coronavirus and preferred call, Health Minister said


The BRITS were “panicked” when they received text messages from the NHS contact tracers, a health minister said.

Lord Bethell told MEPs that people panicked when they were informed by text or email that they may have been infected with a coronavirus.

But they got the news better when contacted by phone, the Commons Science and Technology Committee heard.

The NHS contact tracking application may not be ready until winter.

The Isle of Wight has gone “very well” but national deployment is no longer a priority, said Lord Bethell.


People using the tracking app got better news when contacted by phone, rather than by text or emailCredit: PA: Press Association

Lord Bethell, Minister of Innovation for the Department of Health, said: “The Isle of Wight pilot application went very well and prevented some infections.

“But one of the things he taught us is that it is human contact that is most appreciated by people.

“And in fact, there is a risk of being too technical, relying too much on texting and e-mail and alienating or panicking people, because you tell them quite alarming news by a pretty casual communication.

“The call centers we have set up have worked extremely well. Their effectiveness has been proven and we are very confident.

“So that’s where we’re focusing right now.

“Applications around the world have been difficult and I know that Norwegians, Singaporeans, French and others have all worked on their application versions.

“We are looking to get things done for the winter, but that is not the priority for us right now.”

Health Secretary Matt Hancock initially said the app was crucial in the fight against the disease and would be ready last month.

But the contact treasure, Baroness Dido Harding later downplayed his importance and said it was “the icing on the cake.”

Downing Street said today that there was “no update” on when the NHS application would be ready.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said, “I have no date.”
The latest test and trace numbers will be released tomorrow.


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