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Oxford experts suggest app to alert people if they’ve been close to someone with coronavirus

The Government is apparently assessing whether it could work.

A contact tracing app that alerts people if they've been close to someone who's tested positive for coronavirus, has been suggested by scientists in Oxford.

Scientists at Oxford Uni's Big Data Institute say the app should be opt-in  and could use Bluetooth to keep a log of all other users a person's been in close proximity with in recent days.

Then, if someone tests positive for Covid-19, the people who've been near them will then get a notification and will be advised to self-isolate as a precaution.

It's hoped the tech could significantly slow the rate of transmission and help countries to emerge from lockdowns safely.

The Government and NHSX - the national unit tasked with driving forward a digital transformation of the UK's health and social care - are thought to be assessing whether such an idea could work.

"We need a mobile contact tracing app to urgently support health services to control coronavirus transmission, target interventions and keep people safe," Professor Christophe Fraser, from Oxford University's Big Data Institute, said.

"Our analysis suggests that about half of transmissions occur in the early phase of the infection, before you show any symptoms of infection.

"Our mathematical models also highlight that traditional public health contact tracing approaches provide incomplete data and cannot keep up with the pace of this pandemic."

However, scientists behind the project say any such app should provide secure data storage and privacy protection.

Development would follow the lead set by Singapore, which has used TraceTogether in its bid to stop the spread of the virus there.

The Irish Government is also reportedly looking into similar technology.

"A contact tracing app can foster good citizenship by alerting people at risk, it can also help ease us out of confinement," Professor Fraser added.

"If we know we've not been in contact with anyone infected we can leave home safely, whilst still protecting our loved ones and avoiding a broader resurgence of coronavirus in our community."

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