UK to test tracking app

The British authorities announced on Monday that they would launch the testing of a tracing application, at the heart of the system planned to consider the relaxation of the containment implemented for six weeks to fight against the new coronavirus.

With 28 734 dead, according to the latest assessment communicated on Monday, the United Kingdom is the second country the most affected in Europe by the virus after Italy.

The COVID victim curve – 19 marks a “slow but continuous” decline, stressed during the daily press conference in Downing Street Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, one of the heads of the British health services.

Containment was decreed on 23 March and extended until Thursday, the date on which it must be reviewed.

A spokesman for Downing Street explained that this date would not necessarily be the occasion to announce a relaxation. He also did not confirm that an exit strategy would be released on Sunday evening in a speech by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, as claimed by some media.

To avoid a new wave of contamination, the United Kingdom intends, like many countries, to rely on a tracing application tested from Tuesday on the Isle of Wight (south) in order to be widespread in several weeks.

The application will be available from Tuesday for health personnel on the island, explained the Minister of Health, Matt Hancock, and then to all 80 000 homes of Wight.

The application must in particular make it possible to warn anyone who has been in contact with a person declared positive, by using energy-efficient Bluetooth technology. Location information will be stored on carriers' phones, he said.


Far from suggesting the end of the physical distancing measures, the application must work “in tandem” with them, according to the Minister.

Closure of company canteens, reduction in the number of shared offices, additional cleaning are among the tracks envisaged by the government to allow companies to resume their activities, according to the BBC and the Financial Times .

Employees in contact with the public should be protected by plastic screens and workers who are able to do so are encouraged to continue working from home, in accordance with these recommendations.

Those who must go to the office are encouraged to work shift schedules to avoid the metros and suburban trains being crowded.

Sign of the current decline, the activity of the field hospital opened in London especially to deal with the pandemic is “paused” due to the lack of patients, announced the government on Monday.

Scottish Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon, however, warned on Monday that “the number of people still infected and all other indicators” were still too high to make a “significant change” to the measures in place.

Even if the United Kingdom has now “passed the peak of the epidemic”, according to the government, the end of confinement raises many questions. Companies will have to carry out a “risk assessment” before they can welcome their employees again, suggest government documents on the deconfinement cited in the press.

If the recommended distance of two meters between each worker cannot be respected, the wearing of personal protective clothing (PPE) will be considered. A “clear recommendation” is needed, however, BBC Adam Marshall, managing director of the British Chambers of Commerce, said on Monday.

The change also worries managers of large infrastructures such as airports, where social distancing measures are impossible to put into practice.

“It will not work in aviation or any other form of public transport” due to lack of space, writes John Holland-Kaye, boss of London Heathrow airport in the daily newspaper The Telegraph . “For a single jumbo jet, there would be a one-kilometer queue. “