England and Wale's NHS COVID-19 contact-tracing application is now adding a new feature. The app will apply for a £500 grant if it gives the user a self-isolation order.
NHS contact-tracing app
People on low incomes were only offered the payment of £500 if they had been ordered to stay at home by human test and trace operators. But now that the number of people testing positive for coronavirus is increasing again, the NHS are thinking of adding the contact-tracing app to the list of eligible sources to get financial assistance.
Paul Hunter, the professor of health protection at the University of East Anglia, told BBC Radio 4's Today that people are not isolating because they simply can't afford it or they do not realize that they have to isolate. He added that the whole system is not working.
Hunter also said that there is ample evidence that a lot of people who should be isolating do not feel that they can for personal reasons, and he thinks that it has to be fixed if the government wants to control the number of cases.
New figures reveal that the NHS COVID-19 contact-tracing app has been downloaded a total of 20,361,253 times as of December 2, according to Test and Trace. This represents about 40% of adults that are eligible for financial assistance.
By offering financial support through the application, more and more people may be willing to use it, thus preventing gatherings and promoting self-isolation and quarantine.
This can help turn the system and make it more effective at identifying those who are at high risk of being infected by the virus by someone that they were recently in contact with. But officials say that they main goal is to encourage people and to make it easier for the public to self-isolate.
Preserving anonymity for COVID-19 patients
England and Wales have allowed those on low incomes and who can't work from home to apply for financial assistance if they have received an email, letter, text message or phone call telling them to self-isolate. That did not cover those who had received the notification from the NHS contact-tracing app to isolate.
This is because the app is made to keep the identity of the user on private, despite them getting an alert. The challenge is to find a way to add the facility while it is able to prevent fraudulent claims.
The solution to this involves a new financial support button that only shows up on the home screen if the user has been told to self-isolate. If it is tapped, the user is then taken out of the app and to the webpage that asks them to select if they live in Wales or England.
After responding, the user needs to fill in an eligibility criteria check and if it is accepted, then the user is asked to give their contact details. The NHS Test and Trace team will get in touch and will create an account number that the user can give to their local authority to get the financial assistance.
The user must reveal their identity and accept a legal obligation to self-isolate for the duration of the order. If the user breaks the rules, they can be fined £1,000 or more, according to Gov.UK.
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Written by Sieeka Khan