November 29, 2020

Coronavirus: How does contact tracing work and is my data safe?

The government says hiring is well under way for a team of 18,000 to trace the contacts of those infected.

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick says ”all of society” will have to play their part in contact tracing, by downloading a nationwide app when it is released in a few weeks’ time,

So how does contact tracing work, do you have to take part – and what happens to your data?

What is contact tracing?
Contact tracing is a method used to slow down the spread of infectious outbreaks. It is commonly used in sexual health clinics, when infected patients are told to contact anyone with whom they have been intimate.

In the coronavirus pandemic, it means tracking down anyone sufferers have been in prolonged contact with, to potentially ask them to self-isolate.

This is often done through phone calls to the friends and family of coronavirus sufferers, complemented by an automated location-tracking mobile app.

Unlike tracing in sexual health clinics, it can be difficult to know who you’ve come into close enough contact with to spread coronavirus. And scientists don’t entirely agree what “close contact” is.

The World Health Organization recommends staying one metre apart, while the UK government recommends two.

Its scientific advisers say two seconds spent one metre apart is as dangerous as spending one minute two metres apart.

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