(Pocket-lint) - The long-awaited NHS COVID-19 contact tracing app finally has a launch date for England and Wales. It has been confirmed that it's going to launch on 24 September.

The aim of the app is to close the contact tracing gap amongst those people who don't know each other. If you are in contact with someone who later tests positive for coronavirus, the app will be able to alert you and provide instructions on what to do.

Equally, if you develop symptoms and test positive, the app can be used to alert others you might have been in contact with that they are potentially at risk.

The app will use Bluetooth technology in smartphones to detect the proximity of other users and create a secure and anonymous contact tracing log. The system was devised by Apple and Google to run on iPhone and Android devices, so the core technology comes from those companies.

The new NHS app is built on the top of that framework to work specifically for the UK and provide the details needed for people living in the UK.

One of the features that will be including in the app is the ability to scan a QR code when you visit a venue. This will form part of the contact tracing system and these codes can be scanned through the NHS COVID-19 app and the UK government is urging companies to prepare for the introduction of the app later in September.

That will mean that when you arrive at a pub, restaurant, place of worship or other event, you'll have to scan the code. That will then mean that  if there's an outbreak linked to that venue, the app will be able to notify you about any action you need to take.

There's been a long delay in launching an app for England and Wales. Having announced plans for a contact tracing app in April 2020, NHSX tried to develop an app itself, before ditching that following trials on the Isle of Wight. The new system was announced in August 2020 and has been testing in some limited locations around the UK.

The app is available to install already on Google Play and the Apple App Store, but won't be available to use until 24 September.

Writing by Chris Hall.
  • Source: Coronavirus: England and Wales' contact-tracing app gets launch date - bbc.co.uk
  • Source: Businesses urged to prepare for NHS COVID-19 app - gov.uk
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