According to the transport secretary, an NHS app which aims to limit a second wave of coronavirus will be trialed on the Isle of Wight this week.
Before being rolled out more broadly this month, Grant Shapps said, it would be the first place to use the new contact-tracing feature.
He told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show that the government would ask the whole UK to access it.
“That will help with a lot of the automation of the tracking.”
NHS-advising epidemiologists estimate that about 56 percent of the UK’s population-about 80 percent of smartphone owners-need to use the software to contain the virus.
However, they note that even though the take-up is lower, the spread of the disease may still be slowed.
Nick Thomas-Symonds of the Labor Party said there were flaws in the strategy of the government because not everybody has a smartphone and there are issues of privacy and protection.
“There are people for whom location services on their mobile devices are turned off for particular safety reasons,” he told Sophy Ridge on Sky News.
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The government has also promised to recruit 18,000 people to do manual contact tracing, as it pursues a track-and-trace strategy with a view to lifting the lockdown.
Using Bluetooth, the free smartphone app will track when its users come into contact with each other, automating the tracing process.
When combined with other initiatives, contact tracing has been credited with helping to remove restrictions in many countries.
The software has raised questions about being granted access to the data of citizens by government and third parties.