Some users of the new NHS communication-tracing app have received notifications that they lived with someone with a coronavirus, only to have system checks sent by Google and Apple to detect warnings.
People who have downloaded COVID-19 Applications in England and Wales told Sky News that they had received a notice stating:
However, when they clicked on the message, they found no information to explain whether they should be self-isolated.
The Department of Health and Social Welfare has confirmed that this is a “default message” sent by Google and Apple – the app’s technology maker – but it has already caused confusion, with at least one user being avoided for self-isolation.
Maurice Lever said, “I’m isolating myself now, just to be on the safe side … I don’t know if it’s right.” He received the message on Sunday, the day after the app was downloaded, and could not clear the situation with contact finders.
Katherine Sian, a biomedical scientist at the NHS Lab, received the same notice but found it useful after reading it online.
He said the “extremely stressful” message added that he “did not trust this application at all”: “I just stopped looking for contacts, just used it to check-in at places.”
Mr. Lever and Ms. Sian both described how the default messages “disappeared”. Although clicking on it took them to the app’s homepage, it was never sent.
A spokesman for the Department of Health and Social Services confirmed that default messages from Google and Apple would disappear or not be clicked. An official self-isolation test and trace instruction will create a message inside the app that says: “Please stay home and isolate yourself to protect yourself and others.”
The spokesman said Apple or Google notifications could be called “COVID-19 exposure logging” or “COVID-19 exposure notifications.” It is currently not possible to turn off default messages.
Users receiving invisible notifications have criticized the lack of guidance online and from the NHS 111 telephone hotline.
Johnny Easton said that after receiving the warning when he called NHSK111 for more information on the matter, the call handler told him they would never hear the notice, but they believed it should be ignored.
“One would think that one of the things you did before the app was released was to train 111 employees, who told them you did it when you got the message,” he said.
“It has damaged confidence because it seems like it didn’t really happen in this situation.”
It is not known whether the same alerts were sent to other countries with the app, or how many were sent, but dozens of people reported receiving them on social media.
One asked: “Have I been ‘traced’?” Another said: “I have received a notification [someone] Someone close to me tested positive … There is no information about what is in the app. What’s the point? “
This confusion is the latest in a series of series that have been raised since the app was launched. Over the weekend, it was revealed that hospitals or tests NHS labs could not be placed in the applicationAbout one-third of the tests are without analog.
Users also questioned why the app was not able to register negative test results, as these could free someone from self-isolation.
The Department of Health and Social Services says it has fixed the issue by allowing users to ask for codes from NHS tests and traces, and screenshots featuring Sky News show that it is now possible to add negative test results using the same method in applications.
However, a user who has registered a negative test has questioned whether the message in the app makes it clear that those who have taken the negative test still need to be self-isolated: for example, if other people in their family or bubble persist. It just became clear, the user said after clicking on a link to the application.
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Professor Lillian Edwards, who sat on the ethics board for the first application to be rejected by the government in June, said these issues raised questions about the application’s strategy.
“A decision was made to keep something very simple and very clear that it gets for the first time and so builds a lot of confidence and confidence, or what the English app got, which puts a lot of“ different functionality, ”he told Sky News.
“I think it’s creating confusion that can lower confidence.”
The matter came to light after the Westminster government revealed that the app had received 14 million downloads or about 25% of the population in England and Wales.
A comparison of Oxford University professor Johannes Abeller’s adoption of communication-tracing applications from four different countries shows that a large portion of the population is on record growth compared to Scotland in its first week, Germany and Singapore.
Professor Abeler said: “The strong and widespread support for the app in England and Wales is very good news. This success is probably due to people asking for the app whenever they enter a pub or restaurant. Extensive marketing campaigns have certainly been helpful.”
Commenting on the confusion caused by the Google and Apple notifications, a spokesman for the Department of Health and Social Services said: “NHS Covid-19 app users need to be self-disconnected if they are simply advised to bring a notification directly from their application.”
Sky News contacted Google, Apple and the NHS England to comment.