The NHS’s coronavirus tracing app will no longer send users the disappearing ‘Possible Covid Exposure’ alerts.
The so-called phantom alerts had led NHS Covid-19 app users to panic, by notifying them that they may have been exposed to Covid, only for the message to disappear from their phone and app when they clicked on to it.
The alerts were automatically sent to Google, Android and Apple devices to alert people that the app was sharing information as the app user had been in an area where someone who has tested positive for Covid had also been in.
The Android message read: “Possible Covid-19 exposure. Someone you were near reported having Covid-19. Exposure date, duration and signal strength have been saved.”
Apple iPhone users got this message: “Possible COVID-19 exposure. Verifying exposure info. The app has accessed the date, duration and signal strength of this exposure.”
But those who did not get a second message telling them to self-isolate were not at risk, as the NHS app’s assessment did not judge them to have close enough to the person whose positive test triggered the alert. However, the disappearing message confused many NHS Covid app users.
To ease those concerns, the NHS app has been updated.
Now the app will provide a follow-up message to the first alert, saying “Covid-19 Exposure Check Complete.
“Don’t worry, we have assessed your risk and there is no need to take action at this time.
“Please continue to stay alert and follow the latest advice on social distancing.”
The Department for Health and Social Care said important messages from the NHS Covid-19 app will always be visible to the user when they open the app, even if they miss the notification.
”NHS Covid-19 app users only need to self-isolate if they get a notification directly from the app advising them to do so,” a spokesman said.
It comes after a recent climbdown on the app’s check-in scanning, which people can use when visiting venues such as restaurants and pubs.
Despite initially being heralded as an important aid to contact tracing efforts, the Government later said it does not expect to send out alerts frequently from the QR code feature.
The app has been downloaded more than 16 million times since launching on September 24.
Update your NHS Covid-19 app for the latest features.