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How the NHS COVID-19 app will help in the fight against coronavirus.

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First published:
24 September 2020
Last updated:


The NHS COVID-19 app is an important part of our Test Trace Protect programme to control the spread of COVID-19. The app is used, alongside traditional contact tracing, to notify users if they come into contact with someone who later tests positive for coronavirus.

The app allows people to report symptoms, order a coronavirus test and it helps the NHS trace individuals that may have coronavirus.

The app is helping the NHS understand if the virus is spreading in a particular area, and so local authorities can respond quickly to stop it spreading further.

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 is available for download from the Apple app store or Google Play store.

By downloading and using the app, you can help keep your family and friends safe.

How the app supports you

If you choose to download the app, five key features will help you and your community.


The app detects and logs other nearby app users using random unique IDs. If any of those users later test positive for coronavirus (COVID-19), you will receive an exposure alert with advice on what to do. If you are under 18, you are advised to show this alert to a trusted adult.


When you first register for the app you will be asked for the first half of your postcode. You can check the app every day to see whether where you live has become a high risk area for coronavirus. If it is, you will also receive a notification to let you know. This will help you make daily decisions to protect yourself and those you love.


If you feel unwell, you can use the app to check if your symptoms could be related to coronavirus (COVID-19).


If you have coronavirus symptoms, the app will take you to a website where you can book a test to see if you have coronavirus or not.


If you have been advised by the app to self-isolate, the app provides a countdown timer so that you can keep track of how long you need to self-isolate. When you reach the end of your self-isolation period, the app will send you a notification reminder with a link to the latest advice for you.

You may be entitled to a payment of £500 under the Test, Trace, Protect self-isolation support scheme. Find out more information about how to apply through the COVID-19 app, on NHS COVID-19 app support.

How the app works

The NHS COVID-19 app uses your smartphone’s existing “Exposure Logging” feature to work out if you have spent time near other app users who have tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19).

For this to work, your Bluetooth needs to be turned on: this will not drain your battery as the app uses “Bluetooth Low Energy”.

It uses your postcode district to tell you if your area is at risk. When you download the app you will be asked to share the first 4 letters and digits of your postcode with NHS Wales. A postcode district generally contains about 8,000 addresses. This means that your specific location cannot be identified.

Your personal privacy and data

The app does not hold any personal information about you or track your location. The app uses random unique IDs to detect other NHS COVID-19 app users so that alerts can be sent. Using these random IDs means that your interactions with other app users remain private. All records, such as date, time and how near you are to other users, are stored on your phone only. You can also delete the app and all the data it stores, whenever you choose.

The app cannot be used:

  • to identify you
  • to track you
  • to check if you are self-isolating
  • by law enforcement

Further information about the NHS COVID-19 app

Further information about the app and how to use it can be found on the NHS COVID-19 app support website.