Tracing the coronavirus? There's an app for that

By  | 

LONDON (CBS) Face masks and social distancing have been the only weapons in the fight against the coronavirus but Britain's National Health Service says more ammunition will soon be at people's fingertips. A new app will trace those who have come into contact with COVID-19.

"The app will send an alert anonymously to other app users that you've been in significant contact with over the past few days even before you had symptoms," British Health Secretary Matt Hancock explained.

Essentially, the app tracks where you go and remembers who you were close to by communicating through Bluetooth with other phones.

If someone contracts the virus, the app alerts you if you were near them.

Oxford University says it's a 21st century answer to stop the spread of the virus.

"You can reach people and provide advice on quarantining and isolation and social distancing and you can do that quick enough before they transmit to other people," said David Bonsall, a senior researcher at Oxford.

Singapore has already rolled out a similar app to boost efforts to trace cases. But to be effective, widespread testing is needed.

The app is voluntary but critics are still worried about privacy.

Others say the benefits should outweigh the concerns.

If the app is effective, health experts predict life could start to return to normal.