‘Digital hotcakes’: 15m downloads for Covid-19 app, says Matt Hancock | Politics

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The Covid-19 app that launched on 24 September – more than four months later than initially promised – has been downloaded 15m times, the health secretary has told the virtual Conservative party conference.

The app for England and Wales, which uses the bluetooth signal in mobile phones to track close and sustained contact between users and then warns those who may have been exposed to an infectious person that they should self-isolate, had “gone off the shelf like digital hotcakes”, said Matt Hancock.

During the “interactive interview”, he was asked by Nimco Ali, founder of The Five Foundation to end female genital mutilation, what he believed the prospects were for next year, Hancock replied: “The story of 2021 is a long way off already, three months is a long time in the life of a health secretary in the middle of a pandemic.

“We should all be energised doing the work now so that, despite the fact we have this extraordinary challenge, we can steer the country as well and as safely as possible through these stormy waters and then sail into calmer waters beyond.”

Asked what his hopes were on the development of a Covid-19 vaccine, he said it was the “great hope”, agreeing with Boris Johnson, who on Sunday morning told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show that the public could expect some “bumpy months” ahead.

“The plans are in train, a combination of the NHS and the armed forces are involved in the logistics of making the [vaccine] rollout happen, because it’s not just about developing and testing the vaccine,” he said.

Hancock also said he wanted to see a greater sense of “shared responsibility” between individuals and the NHS for preventing people getting sick.

“I think for too long the NHS has [been] picking up the pieces when things go wrong and instead we need more of a sense of shared responsibility – individual people, everybody, responsible for their own health as well as the NHS taking responsibility to keep people healthy in the first place,” he said.

As well as providing historic challenges the pandemic had proved that positive change could happen very quickly, said Hancock, who added that while people should be able to get a face-to-face appointment with a doctor if they wanted to, video consultations were “more convenient and easier” for many people. About 50% of visits to the GP and 50% of outpatients visits were done by telemedicine, up from less than 10% before the crisis, he added. “It’s good for patients, it’s good for doctors.”

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Source: The Guardian
Keyword: ‘Digital hotcakes’: 15m downloads for Covid-19 app, says Matt Hancock | Politics

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