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France is looking across the Channel with rare admiration after the NHS Covid-19 test-and-trace app was downloaded 12.4m times in four days – a much greater take-up than its French equivalent.
An estimated 3 million people have downloaded the French app, called StopCovid, since its launch in June. In August it was revealed that the app had sent only 72 alerts.
What the UK government said on Covid testing
“Not only are we getting the pandemic under control, with deaths down and hospital admissions way, way down, but we will continue to tackle it, with local lockdowns and with our superlative test-and-trace system.”
“NHS Test and Trace is doing a heroic job, and today most people get an in-person test result within 24 hours, and the median journey is under 10 miles if someone has to take a journey to get one … [To Keir Starmer] We make the tough calls – all he does is sit on the sidelines and carp.”
[On the ‘moonshot’ proposal for mass, near-instant testing:] “We are hopeful this approach will be widespread by the spring and, if everything comes together, it may be possible even for challenging sectors like theatres to have life much closer to normal before Christmas.”
“We don’t have enough testing capacity now because, in an ideal world, I would like to test absolutely everybody that wants a test immediately … Yes, there’s a long way to go, and we will work night and day to ensure that we get there.”
“Of course there is a challenge in testing … We have sent tests to all schools to make sure that they have tests available. But of course I also recognise the challenges in getting hold of tests … Tests are available, even though it is a challenge to get hold of them.”
France’s minister for digital transition, Cédric O, admitted on Tuesday that more work was needed to convince the French population to download the app, which he said could help avert a new nationwide lockdown.
O said he was surprised to learn that the prime minister, Jean Castex, had not downloaded StopCovid, and nor had the justice minister, Éric Dupond-Moretti, the foreign affairs minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, or the junior interior minister, Marlène Schiappa.
“Yes, I’ve pushed the French to do so, but I haven’t done so,” Castex told France2 television.
Le Monde said the “Anglo-Welsh” NHS Covid-19 app was based on technology guaranteeing decentralised management of users’ personal data, as opposed to StopCovid which relies on a central server. The UK app is linked to Apple and Google, while the French app was developed by a French research institute.
Germany’s app, also decentralised, has been downloaded by 18 million people.
O said: “We have to work on this again and try to convince people to download it [StopCovid] once again.”
He told French journalists he did not know whether the prime minister had now downloaded the app. “I know the president has, but in the end it’s up to Jean Castex to decide,” he said.
“StopCovid is very useful, especially in the metro, in restaurants, bars, when there are meetings and when we sometimes don’t wear a mask and don’t know who’s around us. I often come into the office on the metro, but I think in this case the PM doesn’t.”
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: France struggles to push Covid app as neighbours race ahead | France