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NHS Covid-19 app downloaded more than a million times in 24 hours

Matthew Field
·2-min read
 Contact tracing
Contact tracing

England and Wales’ contact tracing app has been downloaded more than a million times in the first 24 hours after its launch, despite early technical issues.

The initial interest will boost hopes that the Government can encourage millions of people to install the app to help stop a second wave of coronavirus infections.

Scientists working on the development of contact-tracing technology had said they need at least 50pc of people to download a contact-tracing app for it to control the pandemic. 

However, the Oxford University team that has modelled the use of contact-tracing apps said just 15pc of people downloading it could cut deaths from coronavirus by 6pc.

NHS track and trace app timeline
NHS track and trace app timeline

It comes after the app’s first day endured teething problems when  some users trying to download the app found it would not work on their smartphones. Apple iPhone users with a phone running software older than iOS 13.5 are not able to install the app, affecting around a fifth of iPhone users.

A downloading glitch following the launch on Thursday morning also left users frustrated and confused with some saying they were already deleting the app


The Google app store page for the Android version of the long-awaited NHS Covid-19 app, Google Play, was flooded with comments on Thursday morning from users complaining that when they downloaded the app it was only the trial version, which locked them out of using it unless they had a five-digit NHS code.

The Department for Health and Social Care said some people who tried to download the app early on Thursday may have still received the trial app.

A spokesman said the issue would be resolved as soon as the app was updated.

Have you downloaded the Government's contact tracing app
Have you downloaded the Government's contact tracing app

More than two million people in the UK are using contact-tracing apps. Scotland has its own app, which has more than one million downloads, covering around a quarter of its adult population, and Northern Ireland’s app has over 300,000 user. 

However, these apps cannot currently work together, meaning a user of the Scottish app cannot warn someone who only has the England and Wales app.

Contact-tracing apps use Bluetooth signals to perform “digital handshakes” between smartphones. Two phones that come into close proximity, around 2m for 15 minutes, are matched anonymously. If one users later reports a coronavirus test, the app anonymously warns people who have matched with them.

The UK’s app also includes other features the developers hope will encourage people to download it. These include a risk tracker, that provides a red, amber or green warning depending on how many coronavirus cases there are in your area. 

It also has a QR code scanner, so users can check-in to bars and restaurants. It is now mandatory for hospitality to display these QR barcodes or face a £1,000 fine.

Have you downloaded the app? What are your first impressions? Let us know in the comments section below.