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coronavirus

Orkney residents urged to download COVID tracking app

Folk in Orkney are being urged to download the new Protect Scotland app to suppress the spread of coronavirus.

The free app, available now on Apple and Google stores, will enhance existing Test and Protect contact tracing measures, offering an additional layer of protection to break the chains of transmission faster.

Once downloaded, the app works in the background, using Bluetooth technology to alert people if they have been within two metres for at least 15 minutes with another app user who has tested positive for coronavirus.

It also quickly alerts app users you have been in close contact with if you test positive, even if those contacts are unknown to you.

People’s privacy will be protected, as the app uses encrypted anonymised codes to determine close contacts, which are deleted after 14 days.  It doesn’t store details on an individual, or their location.

Using tried and tested technology, the app will alert people to self-isolate far quicker if they are exposed to the virus, reducing the risk of them infecting others – and the more people who use the app, the better it will work.

However people are being reminded that following FACTS remains vital – face coverings, avoid crowded places, clean hands and surfaces, two metre physical distancing and self-isolate immediately and book a test if you have symptoms.

Health secretary Jeane Freeman said: “What each one of us does in how we behave — wearing face covering, washing our hands and cleaning surfaces, staying two metres apart and avoiding crowded places – all of that really matters in our joint goal of suppressing this virus.

“The launch of the Protect Scotland app offers an additional level of protection, supporting NHS Scotland’s Test and Protect system to continue to drive down the spread of COVID-19 across the country.

“I would encourage everyone to download the free app if they have a compatible smartphone, and help slow the spread of COVID-19.  This will support the work of NHS Scotland and has the potential to help avoid local lockdowns.

“The app will enhance, not replace the work of our team of contact tracers by adding an additional means of notifying people who may have been exposed to the virus and require to self-isolate.

“Users of the app who test positive will still get a call from a contact tracer to confirm their details and who they have been in close contact with. The app will however, allow contacts unknown to the positive individual to be traced – for example fellow passengers on a train or bus.

“We also know that not everyone uses a mobile phone or will be able to access the app, which is why this software is very much there to complement existing contact tracing methods.”