New film promotes NHS COVID-19 App among South Asian communities

NHS COVID-19 app is displayed on a handheld device. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

A new film has launched to promote the NHS COVID-19 app among the South Asian communities across England and Wales.

The film features celebrities including actor Ameet Chana, dance sensation Madhu Singh, magician and content creator Arshdeep Soni, along with healthcare professionals and community influencers.

Launched last week, the smartphone app allows users to trace contacts, check the local level of risk and record visits to venues such as pubs.

The film is part of the drive to raise awareness that downloading the app will help control the spread of the virus and protect themselves and their loved ones as case numbers rise.

Several reviews during the first outbreak earlier this year, including by the Office for National Statistics and Public Health England, have found evidence of disproportionate mortality and morbidity amongst black, Asian and minority ethnic people who have contracted COVID-19.

The app is now available to download from the Google and Apple app stores to those aged 16 and over in multiple languages.

It forms a central part of the NHS Test and Trace service in England and the NHS Wales Test, Trace, Protect programme.

The UK’s major mobile network operators, including Vodafone, Three, EE and O2, Sky and Virgin, have confirmed that all in-app activity will not come out of customers’ data allowance.

The app uses Bluetooth signals to log when a user is in close contact with another user, generally meaning within two metres for 15 minutes or more.

If someone then tests positive for COVID-19, they can choose to share the result anonymously with their close contacts, who will each receive an alert and will have to isolate for 14 days.

The app generates a random ID for each user to protect privacy, and matches cases on the device rather than on a central server. The app does not hold personal information such as name, address or date of birth, and only requires the first half of the postcode to ensure local outbreaks can be managed.

It will also enable users to book a COVID-19 test subject to availability, check symptoms, and register at venues using a QR-type bar code displayed by businesses.