isle of wight uk

Majority of Isle of Wight residents download Covid-19 tracing app

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More than 50 per cent of Isle of Wight residents have downloaded the Covid-19 tracing app that is being trialled there, the Government has revealed.

Speaking at the daily Downing Street briefing on Thursday, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said more than 70,000 people had downloaded the software on the island, which has a population of 141,000.

He said: “There are now over half the residents of the Isle of Wight, where this is being tested out, who have downloaded the tracking app for the first time, or, in total, rather the actual number is 72,300.”

The app launched on a trial basis for some key workers on the island last week before being rolled out to all residents a day later. Health Secretary Matt Hancock urged residents on the island not to relax social distancing measures despite its rollout.

Some residents expressed mixed feelings about being “guinea pigs” for the app, with concerns that it could simply be a “gimmick”, while other felt more positively.

Unlike many European countries, the UK has elected to adopt a centralised model for its app where data is stored and operations are performed on a central server, rather than on individuals’ phones. Groups like Amnesty International have raised concerns that such an approach opens the door to “pervasive state surveillance and privacy infringement”.

Earlier this month, Shapps said that around 50 to 60 per cent of people will need to use the software for it to be effective, so reaching this figure within the first week of release is a promising sign.

Shapps also said visitors to the UK would be asked to download the app.

He added: “One of the things we will be asking people to do at the border when they come in is to download the app. And provide us with contact details, so that we know where people are.”

The app uses Bluetooth to detect when a person’s phone has been near another owned by someone reporting symptoms of Covid-19, sending a notification to the user and offering them advice on what to do to prevent spreading the disease.

The Government has also said the app can be used to order a Covid-19 swab test if you have symptoms of the virus.

It is available on Apple iOS version 11 and higher and Android version 8 and higher.

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