The NHS COVID-19 app is a multi-function support tool to help in the surveillance of coronavirus and the delivery of the test and trace service (via venue check-in and contact tracing), to enable more direct action to contain outbreaks and to help people check symptoms, book a test and receive test results. App users remain anonymous; no personal data is logged - the app tracks the virus, not the people using it. The app is available to everyone aged 16 or over and in multiple languages. All major mobile network providers have agreed that all in-app activity will not come out of customers' data allowance.
The NHS Covid-19 app has six key features:
1) Trace - alerts you if you are in close contact with a confirmed case;
2) Alert - provides you with the risk level for Covid-19 in the area you are in;
3) Check-in - allows you to check in to locations using the app and the official NHS QR codes;
4) Symptoms - allows you to check symptoms agains government guidance and get advice;
5) Test - allows you to order a free test and get results via the app;
6) Isolate - counts down the isolation period and links you to advice.
The contract tracing feature is one of the primary functions of the app and is key in supporting the test and trace service. All staff working across all sectors are encouraged to download the app. Once downloaded the app should be left on as much as possible.
There are a few limited occasions when the contact tracing feature should be paused (by moving the contact tracing toggle on the home screen). This pause function only applies when you:
- store your phone in a locker while you're working or are involved in a leisure activity, like swimming
- are already protected by a Perspex (or equivalent) screen
- are a healthcare worker working in a healthcare building such as a hospital or GP surgery
- a worker in social care and are wearing medical grade PPE such as a surgical mask.
Visitors to health and social care buildings should not pause the app, even if they are wearing face coverings. Other app features can still be used when the contact tracing function is paused.
Covid-19 app - workplace guidance on when to pause the app
The NHS COVID-19 app check-in feature enables a venue to register for an official NHS QR code and allows users to ‘check-in’ to participating venues on their app by scanning that code. The information stays on the user’s phone. Venues in England that are expected to maintain customer logs are legally required to ensure that official NHS QR code posters are available for customers to use (see the link below on creating an NHS QR code). This does not include hospitals, GP practices, dentists and community pharmacies, but these are encouraged to display the official NHS QR code in areas where people sit or congregate for 15 minutes or more. Care homes are also advised to have QR posters at entrances and in waiting rooms.
You can download a QR poster here.
Advice and troubleshooting issues relating to the use of QR codes can be found on the app website frequently asked questions (link below).
NHS QR Code poster venue advice and troubleshooting
The NHS Covid-19 app website has a section on more common questions, covering the use of the app, data and privacy, technical queries and other topics - https://faq.covid19.nhs.uk/
All schools and further education colleges have been given specific guidance on the use of the Covid-19 app and the QR codes (see the link below).
Use of the NHS Covid-19 app in schools and further education colleges
A demo video about using the app has also been produced - Demo Video
Please note: to install and use the NHS COVID-19 app, your phone will need Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) 4 or above and Operating System software Android Marshmallow (v6.0) or iOS 13.5 or above, to load and run the app effectively. This is because the app needs the Exposure Notification framework developed by Apple and Google, which is only available in these versions. The app can be downloaded from the Apple Store or from Google Play.