Scotland set to unveil contact tracing app that UK government would be ready in May

PUBLISHED: 10:40 07 September 2020 | UPDATED: 10:44 07 September 2020

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon during First Ministers Questions at the Scottish Parliament. Photograph: Fraser Bremner/Scottish Daily Mail

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon during First Ministers Questions at the Scottish Parliament. Photograph: Fraser Bremner/Scottish Daily Mail

PA Wire/PA Images

In a move set to further embarrass the Westminster government over its handling of coronavirus, Nicola Sturgeon’s government is set to unveil a contact tracing phone app which the UK government had promised back in May.

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A much-anticipated smartphone app was originally set to be rolled out by the Tory government earlier this year to aid the lifting of lockdown.

The UK’s health minister Matt Hancock said it was central to the track and trace system, but ministers eventually conceded it would not be ready before the end of the year, after they chose to take a different approach with the technology used by other countries.


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Now the Scottish government is to unveil a proximity app as an “extra piece of armour” which will be “very private”.

Scotland’s national clinical director Jason Leitch said the launch of the Protect Scotland application is expected to be announced in the next few days.

It aims to allow tracing of a wider range of contacts by using mobile phones to detect who has been in close proximity with a positive case.

First minister Nicola Sturgeon previously described it as a “major enhancement” to the contact-tracing system.

Leitch told the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland radio programme: “We’ve got to just dot some Is and cross some Ts but we’re hopeful that, in the next few days, we’ll be able to announce that it’s happening, what exactly it is and how people will be able to get it.

“It will be very private, it won’t track you, it won’t hold the data of where you’ve been or who you’ve been with.

“But what it will do is it will add an extra tool, an extra piece of the armour, to fix that Test and Protect system, to allow us to get the positive cases who are in touch and don’t know each other.

“So perhaps on transportation or hospitality, where you’re not sure who’s next to you or who’s beside you.”

The move follows polling which found the English believe Scottish and Welsh governments have handled the coronavirus pandemic better than Westminster.

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