Local lockdowns could be enforced within 24 hours with NHS Test and Trace app

Local lockdowns across the UK could be enforced within 24 hours of a coronavirus outbreak by using data from the NHS Test and Trace app, reports claim.

The Government's uses the current Covid-19 testing system and statistics to decide whether a town or city should have tougher coronavirus restrictions.

This process can take weeks to see a trend or upwards trajectory of cases.

Ministers analyse infection rates, testing figures, deaths, hospitalisations and the 'R' rate to come to a decision on whether an area needs a local lockdown.

However, this is slowed down by the time it takes for swabs to be sent off to labs, tested and input into the centralised testing programme, alongside how long it takes to see an increase in hospital admissions and deaths.

It can also take several weeks for patients to show symptoms and become ill.

Health bosses will start monitoring the NHS Test and Trace app for local clusters of people who display Covid-19-symptoms, a Government source told The Sun. Reports say they won't hesitate on reducing freedoms if a large number of people fall ill.

Users can alert the app when they are suffering from symptoms of coronavirus – fever, loss of taste and smell or continuous cough – which immediately tells them to self-isolate and book a test.

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If a large proportion of people in one area begin suffering symptoms then health officials in local authorities are alerted to the cluster, allowing them to act swiftly in response to the virus.

A Government Source told The Sun : "Meetings have been taking place over the weekend, and we have been put on notice that new measures could come into force at any time."

The NHS Test and Trace app has been downloaded 12.4 million times as of 12pm yesterday, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said.

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The app alerts it offers could mean ministers can impose 'fluid' updates over weekly lockdown reviews.

It also means lockdown restrictions like curfews, bans on mixing in households and outdoors in pubs can be enforced quicker, and for short periods, as coronavirus cases are observed much faster.

The NHS Covid-19 app does no monitor a user's location but instead uses the postcode inputted when it was downloaded to pinpoint the location of a possible coronavirus infection should a person send an alert related to their symptoms.

Users can't give their name, email address or phone number and little personal information is handed out.

The app launched four months behind schedule following issues of it working on both Apple and Android devices.

Health experts are urging people to download the app to make it more effective, but said even if 15 per cent of the population used it, it would help control the virus.

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