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NWIS developers build vital links in NHS COVID-19 app


Developers from NWIS have been part of the team ensuring the NHS COVID-19 app links with data and systems being used in Wales to help stop the spread of coronavirus. The success of the integration work between the app and laboratory systems has seen the app run smoothly in Wales.

The integration completed by NWIS has ensured that if an app user books a COVID19 test via the app, the result is returned to the app for a seamless update. If they book via any other mechanism, they will receive a token alongside the SMS result for manual input into the app to unlock the latest COVID-19 isolation advice. In Wales, citizens with a negative and positive result will receive a token and have the ability to input into the app, which differs to England who are currently only providing tokens to citizens with a positive result.

In the first three days following the launch of the app, it has been downloaded 10 million times. One key feature of the app is exposure notification which works by logging the amount of time a user spends near other app users, and the distance between them, so it can alert the user if someone they have been close to later tests positive for COVID-19 – even if they don’t know each other. The app will advise the user to self-isolate if they have been in close contact with a confirmed case.

Wales’ Health Minister Vaughan Gething said: “The launch of the NHS COVID-19 app is an important part of Wales’ coronavirus response, supporting the NHS Wales Test, Trace, Protect programme. The more people who download and use this app, the more it will help us to prevent the spread of COVID-19.” 

The app has been designed with user privacy in mind, so it tracks the virus, not people and uses the latest in data security technology to protect privacy. The system generates a random ID for an individual’s device, which can be exchanged between devices via Bluetooth. These unique random IDs regenerate frequently to add an extra layer of security and preserve anonymity.

The app does not hold personal information such as name, address or date of birth, and only requires the first half of a postcode to ensure local outbreaks can be managed.

Whilst the app will be a major support for the contact tracing system, Welsh residents are being reminded to continue to keep Wales safe and prevent the spread of COVID-19 by:

  • Always keeping a distance
  • Washing hands regularly
  • Working from home wherever possible
  • Following local restrictions
  • Following the rules about meeting people
  • Staying at home if you or anyone in your extended household has symptoms.

First published: 28/09/20