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The Scottish Government is developing a contact tracing app to support NHS Scotland’s Test and Protect system which focuses on a person to person liaison. Holyrood says the new phone app uses Bluetooth technology to anonymously alert users if they have been in close contact with another user who has tested positive for COVID-19.
But the SNP led government originally had no plans to use an app as part of their contact tracing strategy instead focussing on a person to person strategy.
Speaking back in May when Holyrood launched their contract tracing strategy, Nicola Sturgeon said the Government was seeking to learn from other countries and “at some point in the future” the idea of a proximity app may have a role to play.
But this week, Scottish Health Secretary Jeane Freeman made a U-turn stressing that an app would “offer an additional level of protection.”
The Scottish contact tracing app will be developed by Nearform using the same software as the Republic of Ireland contact tracing app, which Dublin says has been widely successful and has been adapted for use in Northern Ireland and Gibraltar
It comes after the failure by Health Secretary Matt Hancock to create a similar NHS-branded app in England, which was trialled on the Isle of Wight.
Scientists say a robust contact tracing system would be essential to curbing the spread of the virus.
But Richard Leonard MSP, Leader of Scottish Labour, said the development of the technology should have occurred earlier.
He added: “This is a total shambles.
“The importance of contact tracing was apparent from the off.
“We’re now in the sixth month of COVID-19 in Scotland and the Scottish Government is still flip-flopping over contact tracing apps.
“Businesses and services which have been seeking to implement contact tracing since they reopened will be aghast and rightly concerned that continued confusion will undermine the fight against the virus.”
Patrick Harvie MSP, Scottish Greens co-leader, told Express.co.uk: “Any delay to this app is disappointing, but it must not distract from the whole basis of the contact tracing system, which is delivered by people doing traditional public health work, person to person.”
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Miles Briggs MSP, Scottish Tories Health spokesperson, added: “A key part of the Scottish Government’s COVID strategy is meant to be contact tracing.
“But ever since the revelations that visitors to Scotland weren’t being contacted, this promise has fallen flat.
“The main feature of the SNP’s approach to the virus is to waste months doing nothing, testing next to no one, while claiming that Scotland is somehow doing better than anywhere else.”
The latest figures show that there were 31 new cases of coronavirus confirmed in Scotland in the past 24 hours.
Sunday’s figures from the Scottish Government represent 1.1 percent of newly-tested individuals.
There were no new deaths of people who had tested positive for COVID-19, meaning the total under this measurement remains at 2,491.
A total of 265 people are in hospital with coronavirus, including three in intensive care.
At the same time, Scottish public health officials are investigating a cluster of 13 cases of COVID-19 linked to a pub in Aberdeen.
NHS Grampian says the cases are associated with The Hawthorn Bar in the city centre.
The pub’s owners said that some customers who visited on Sunday, July 26, have since tested positive for the virus.
The Scottish Government has been approached for comment by Express.co.uk.
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