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Coronavirus: Third of tests in England ‘not linked’ to new NHS app, developers suggest

The developers of the new NHS coronavirus tracing app have suggested that more than 60,000 tests carried out in England yesterday – just under a third of the total – cannot be linked to its systems.

The admission appears to undermine the central role of the software, which is to warn people when they have come into contact with anyone who subsequently tests positive.

The long-awaited NHS coronavirus contact-tracing app launched two days ago across England and Wales.

However, in a response to a tweet by a user who said they had been tested but could not upload the result, the app’s developers said it is not linked to test results processed in a Public Health England lab or NHS hospital.

“If your test took place in a Public Health England lab or NHS hospital, or as part of national surveillance testing conducted by the Office for National Statistics, test results cannot currently be linked with the app whether they’re positive or negative,” they wrote.

Official government figures show a total of 210,275 people were tested in England on Friday, including 61,481 in hospitals and PHE labs (Pillar 1) and 148,894 in testing centres (Pillar 2).

The admission on the app’s official Twitter account suggests the results of just under a third (29%) of the tests could not be linked.

Labour’s Jonathan Ashworth questioned the apparent flaw on social media.

The shadow health secretary tweeted: “We all want to see this app succeed. We’ve encouraged people to download it.

“But have they really launched an app that doesn’t actually link to tests carried out by NHS hospital labs & PHE labs instead only including tests carried out via the outsourced lighthouse lab network??”

The Welsh government has pointed out that Public Health Wales results can be processed and urged people to continue using the app.

Posting on Twitter, Welsh health minister Vaughan Gething urged people “shouting” that the app is “useless” to “please calm down”.

“Thanks to @NWISupdates tests in @PublicHealthW labs are integrated into the app with lighthouse lab results. Please carry on using it,” he said.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has called the new mobile phone app an “important step forward” in the UK’s fight against COVID-19.

It asks users to self-isolate for 14 days if it detects they were in close proximity to someone with coronavirus.

Sky News has contacted the Department of Health for comment.

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