The NHS track-and-trace app is the gift that keeps on giving – to lockdown sceptics. I honestly didn’t think this fiasco could become even more embarrassing for the Government, but it has. The latest cock-up is that anyone who’s got a test result back from NHS hospitals or Public Health England can’t actually share their results via the app.
The Telegraph has the details:
Officials were forced to urgently remove a major blindspot in the Government’s COVID-19 app yesterday which meant that more than a third of daily tests were being excluded from the system.
On Saturday morning, it emerged that those who tested positive for the virus in NHS hospitals and Public Health England (PHE) labs were unable to share their result using the official contact-tracing app for the first 48 hours after its introduction on Thursday.
The Department of Health said it had worked “urgently” fix the problem.
Tests carried out by the NHS and PHE make up one in three of those carried out each day, and their exclusion would have meant that casual contacts of a large proportion of medics who tested positive for the virus would not have received automatic notifications asking them to isolate.
As does the Mail:
More than 60,000 Britons are unable to tell the long-awaited NHS Test and Trace app whether they have tested positive for coronavirus, the Government has admitted in the latest fiasco to engulf the UK’s ‘world-leading’ testing system.
Results from swabs examined by NHS hospitals and Public Health England – more than 70,000 a day – cannot be entered into the app as they are not supplied with a test code, the Department of Health has confirmed.
The oversight means sufferers are unable to send out alerts to people they have been near to advise them to self-isolate to curb the spread of coronavirus.
As does the Sunday Times – although the Times points out that it isn’t just results obtained from NHS hospitals and PHE that can’t be entered in the new app. It’s also results received via the ONS infection survey.
On Friday, the day after the app launched, at least 61,000 people tested in England were unable to enter their results. As a result, thousands of other people who had been in close proximity to those with positive results will never be notified.
The NHS Test and Trace website said: “If your test took place in a Public Health England lab or NHS hospital, or as part of national surveillance testing conducted by the Office for National Statistics, test results cannot currently be linked with the app whether they’re positive or negative. We are working to make this available as soon as possible.”
? ? ?
As usual, I turned to Lockdown Sceptics‘ dedicated track-and-trace app correspondent to explain what’s going on.
It only took three days for the NHS COVID-19 app to acquire a litany of problems.
Users cannot report negative test results because the app asks for a result code and negative tests don’t have a code. If you reported symptoms to the app when booking that test then your self isolation counter continues to count, even though you have a negative test.
How about positive tests? According to the @NHSCOVID19app twitter account responding to complaints: “If your test took place in a Public Health England lab or NHS hospital, or as part of national surveillance testing conducted by the Office for National Statistics, test results cannot currently be linked with the app whether they’re positive or negative.” This shouldn’t be a surprise to the team building the app as they told us about it in their own documentation. But as this tweet from an incredulous user points out: “So if I get symptoms, and as an NHS nurse, get a test through work (because that’s the only way you can get a test these days), then if I am positive the app will not automatically alert my contacts? Same for a patient with a positive test?” That’s right, if you have your test done in an NHS hospital you cannot tell the NHS app about it.
The ludicrous levels of optimism around this app are evident in the twitter stream: “For every 1 to 2 people who download the app, an infection could be prevented.” Really? Could we see “the science” behind that please?
Meanwhile the venue check-in function doesn’t have a way of telling it when you leave a venue. That’s by design apparently: “You do not need to check out of a venue. Your phone will register when you check into somewhere new, and it will automatically check you out of your last venue at midnight.” So if I visit a venue for a few minutes at 9pm, then go home, and someone who later tests positive visits that venue at 10pm, I will be alerted and asked to isolate. No prizes for seeing the problem with that.
Presumably this level of incompetence is all part of the new normal?