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Wales Online
Wales Online
Lorna Hughes

NHS Covid app for England and Wales decommissioned as number of people using it dwindles

The NHS is decommissioning its Covid-19 app because the number of people using it has fallen. The app will close down on April 27, with all of its features working until this date.

People have been able to use it to enter Covid test results, with an alert then sent to those positive cases came into close contact with. Those receiving an exposure notification could also use it to keep track of how many days they had left to isolate, along with a symptoms checker and latest advice on the virus.

The app has had 31 million downloads but the Government says the number of 'active users' has declined steadily since July 2021. It said this was down to the vaccination programme and end of free testing for most people, meaning fewer positive tests have been entered and fewer alerts sent.

At the height of the pandemic, the app was blamed for a "pingdemic" due to the number of people self-isolating after receiving an exposure alert.

The UK Government website said: "The NHS COVID-19 app will close down on 27 April 2023. All the app features will be working until that date. People using the NHS COVID-19 app in England and Wales have helped to break chains of transmission and reduce infections.

"Leading scientists at the University of Oxford and University of Warwick have estimated that the app prevented around one million cases, 44,000 hospitalisations and 9,600 people dying during its first year alone. Over the past year, the success of the vaccination programme, increased access to treatments and high immunity in the population have enabled the government to target its coronavirus services.

"This includes providing continued access to government-funded testing, vaccinations and treatments for people at highest risk from the virus. The number of people actively using the NHS COVID-19 app has steadily reduced since July 2021. Since access to government-funded testing ended for most people, fewer positive test results have been entered in the app and, as a result, fewer notifications have been sent to close contacts.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) is committed to providing the most effective public health services and has decided to close the NHS COVID-19 app down. It will use the knowledge, technology and lessons learned from the app to help respond to future pandemic threats."

The app has been available in 12 different languages. It uses Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) to understand the distance, over time, between app users. Typically, exposure notifications have been sent to those who have been within two metres, for 15 minutes or longer, of someone who went on to test positive for Covid-19.

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