The national NHS Test and Trace App is now available and health leaders in Cumbria are encouraging people to download it to their smartphones now.

The app is key part of the fight against COVID-19 in England and Wales.

The app will be used, alongside traditional  contact tracing, to notify users if they come into contact with someone who later tests positive for coronavirus.

The app will also help local authorities understand if the virus is spreading in their area, helping them to respond quickly to stop it spreading further and save lives. The app does this while protecting a user’s anonymity. Nobody, including the government, will know who or where a particular user is.

The app, and further information, is available to download on the Google Play Store and Apple App Store via https://www.covid19.nhs.uk/

The app also allows users to ‘check-in’ to local businesses by scanning the NHS Test & Trace QR code poster that many businesses are now required by law to display. The app will alert users if they have come into contact with someone who tests positive for COVID-19.

Businesses and organisations covered by the new law that do not display a QR code poster can be fined up to £4,000.

Businesses can download the QR codes via a website - https://www.gov.uk/create-coronavirus-qr-poster  - to display as posters in premises. Further information for businesses is available at  https://www.gov.uk/guidance/maintaining-records-of-staff-customers-and-visitors-to-support-nhs-test-and-trace

Colin Cox, Cumbria’s Director of Public Health, said:

 “I’m strongly encouraging people to download the app. The more people who use it the more powerful it becomes in helping us stop the spread of this virus. I know it has been a long time coming and people may be sceptical, but the trials of the system elsewhere in the country have gone well and it’s clear this is an important weapon in our fight against COVID-19. I want to stress that the app cannot be used to identify you, track you, check if you are self-isolating or by law enforcement, but it can make a significant difference to our ability to keep the virus under control.

 “Local businesses covered by the new regulations should now have their QR code posters prominently displayed and robust manual systems for logging customer contact details for those who don’t use the app.  The fines for not doing so are significant and working with partners we will be taking a proactive approach to ensuring businesses are complying with the law.”

 Dr Shahedal Bari, Medical Director, NHS University Hospitals Morecambe Bay Trust, said

"Its really important that as many people as possible download the NHS Test and Trace App and use it, and that businesses display the signage as well to enable it to be fully helpful. It will be really important in ensuring that the NHS Test and Trace service are able to protect others in society by tracing contacts.

 "We will be supporting this by displaying the compatible QR codes at our hospital sites and we urge others across our community to do so."

Carlisle GP Dr Colin Patterson, clinical lead for NHS North Cumbria Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said:

 “This is one way you can help the NHS. Understanding how the virus is spreading and being able to respond quickly is important, and the more people using the NHS Covid-19 App, the more robust the information locally will be.”