Fears virus track and trace app could be used for 'pranks'

The smartphone download known as NHSX – which alerts mobile phone users if they have come into contact with someone with Covid-19 symptoms – is being trialled on the Isle of Wight before its anticipated roll-out across the rest of the country, but even the location of the trial has been called into question. Dr Michael Veale, lecturer in digital rights and regulation at University College London, said the app’s reliance on people self-reporting is “a worry”, as well as its inability to work well across borders. ____________________________________________________ More on coronavirus: ____________________________________________________ Dr Veale, who is part of a team working on a rival app, told Sky’s Sophy Ridge On Sunday: “That appears to stem from, not a lack of number of tests potentially, but really something that hasn’t been focused on enough – the tests aren’t fast enough in the UK compared to other countries. Asked if he thinks the Government will end up using a second contact-tracing app, Dr Veale said: “There are real signs that they might, particularly because the UK is a clear outlier internationally in using this particular type of approach, and that means it won’t work well across borders. “The Republic of Ireland have already said they’re using a decentralised approach, and that will potentially create problems there if the devolved administration chooses to effectively put in this kind of app.” Dr Veale said it is “unclear” if the Isle of Wight is a good testing environment for the app. “And if the Isle of Wight is in lockdown as it is, it’s unclear that that is a good testing environment to see if the app really works and particularly around issues like battery when there are a lot of people around,” he said. Nick Summerton, a GP with 32 years’ experience, told the Sunday Mirror the app risked ignoring 10 symptoms other than fever or cough. To ignore such good work is strange.” Professor Spector of King’s College London launched the Covid-19 Symptom Tracker app on March 23, with some three million people using it in Britain and the US since. We are falling behind other countries.” NHSX requires smartphone users to download the app and share data the moment they test positive or display signs of Covid-19, with the app sending a notification to all mobile phone users in recent proximity to them advising them to self-isolate. Andrew Cuomo ordered the lockdown of the state on March 20, as the coronavirus case count surged. The nation's leading zoological parks – Dehiwala National Zoo (pictured), Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage, Pinnawala Open Zoo and Ridiyagama Safari Park – were closed for two weeks on March 14.  The Al-Aqsa mosque and Dome of the Rock were closed down until further notice, on March 15. Italians have been experiencing further virus-containment restrictions after Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced a nationwide lockdown on personal movement on March 9. The Rijksmuseum will remain closed to public until April 6, the museum's official Twitter handle stated on March 15.

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