What is the NHS COVID-19 app?

A young person smiles while using their phone

Understanding the “track and trace” app

Last week, the NHS launched an app for England and Wales that’s designed to warn you to self-isolate if you’ve been near someone who has tested positive for coronavirus.

The app is often referred to as the “track and trace” app.

The app also allows you to check-in when you visit a pub, bar or restaurant by scanning a QR code. You’ll get an alert, which tells you you need to self-isolate when other customers have had a positive test.

How does the app work?

The app has been developed by Apple and Google and uses Bluetooth to create a “digital handshake.”

This means that when anyone else who has downloaded the app has come within two metres of you, for five minutes or longer, the app will keep track of them anonymously.

If one of these people tests positive for coronavirus and logs this in the app, you will be notified that you need to self-isolate.

Will I know who has tested positive?

No, this information will be kept anonymous. Equally, if you have a positive test, no one who is notified will know it was you.

How will the app stop the spread of coronavirus?

The app is designed to stop more people from catching coronavirus by warning you to self-isolate when you need to, before you go out and potentially pass on the virus to others.

How do I download the app?

You can find the app by visiting the App Store on your iPhone, or the Google Play Store on your Android phone. When searching for the app, type “NHS Covid-19.”

The app is only available on smartphones and you’ll have to have iOS 13.5 or later installed on your iPhone, or Android 6.0 or later on an Android phone.

Make sure you check if you’re able to update your phone in your settings.

If you need any help with the app, you can visit the NHS website.

Who can download the app?

The app is available to anyone aged 16 or over and is available in eight languages. Scotland and Northern Ireland have separate apps which have a very similar design.

  • If you live in Scotland, search for “Protect Scotland” in your app store.
  • If you live in Northern Ireland, search for “StopCOVID NI” in your app store.

How do I activate the app?

All you will need to do is accept the privacy terms, enter the first part of your postcode and enable the app notifications.

You’ll also need to activate the Bluetooth setting on your phone. Once this is done, the app will be ready to use.

Why do I need to enter my postcode?

This will allow the government to notify you if the risk level in your area changes. For example, if the number of cases of coronavirus in your neighbourhood is very high, the area may be deemed “high risk” and the government may need to impose additional measures, such as a local lockdown.

How do I scan QR codes?

Up to 160,000 venues are now using QR codes and you’ll see them somewhere visible as you enter, or when you sit down at your table.

To scan the QR barcode, tap the “venue check-in” button, point the camera screen at the QR code and you’ll then get a confirmation that it has been scanned.

You don’t need to do anything else once this has been done.

What else does the app do?

The app allows you to log your symptoms – if they suggest you are at risk of having coronavirus, you will be asked to book a test.

If you’re feeling anxious about coronavirus…

Visit our coronavirus support page for tips, information and advice on coping with the pandemic.

Read our article on coping with corona anxiety.

Speak to our team about any issue, for free and confidential support.

Next Steps

By Holly Turner

Updated on 28-Sep-2020