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NHS contact-tracing app originally set for May launch is now planned 'for winter'

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The NHS contact-tracing app will not be ready before winter, a health minister has said, despite initially being promised in mid-May.

Lord Bethell said the Department of Health was "seeking to get something going for the winter". But, he told a committee of MPs, the app wasn't "the priority at the moment".

Lord Bethell confirmed the government still planned to introduce a contact-tracing app, describing it as "a really important option for the future".

The app has been the subject of a trial on the Isle of Wight, where the Department of Health says it has been downloaded by 54,000 people.

Lord Bethell said the trial had been a success, but admitted that one of its principal lessons had been that greater emphasis needed to be placed on manual contact tracing.

Asked why the app had taken so long to release, Lord Bethell told the Science and Technology Committee the Isle of Wight trial had shown that people "weren't frightened of it, as we were worried that they might be" - and had also provided "concrete examples" of successes in breaking transmission chains. But he admitted there had been "technical challenges", as well as an "ongoing battle" to persuade people the system was safe and privacy-protecting.

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Source: Sky News, 18 June 2020

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