18 Jun 2020

Islanders thanked for playing vital role

Islanders have today (Thursday 18 June) been thanked for the vital role they played in the development of contact-tracing app technology.

As the government announces the end of the NHS Covid-19 app trial, health secretary Matt Hancock said the feedback provided by Island residents would play an 'integral' part in the next phase of development.

He said: "A huge number of people on the Island have dedicated time to this project and we are hugely grateful.

"Residents on the Isle of Wight have led the way and the feedback from Islanders will remain at the heart of our approach going forward."

When Mr Hancock called on Islanders to lead the way in the development of the pioneering technology, more than 54,000 responded by downloading the app.

It has since played an important role in speeding up the time it takes to trace the contacts of those diagnosed with the virus, allowing them to isolate more quickly before they have the chance to spread it to others.

Isle of Wight Council leader, Dave Stewart, said he had no doubt that the enthusiasm with which residents had approached the project had played a real part in helping to keep the rate of infection low on the Island.

He said: "I have been overwhelmed — but not surprised — by the Island community's willingness to lead from the front in the war on coronavirus, playing a vital role in the development of contact-tracing app technology.

"The valuable insight gained from trialling the app here will go on to inform the design of future developments which, I am sure, will lead to many lives being saved.

"To every Islander who downloaded the app, I would like to extend my own personal thanks and gratitude.

"The app project provided us with an opportunity to take part in something groundbreaking which would help protect the Island and the community — something which, I believe, it has achieved.

"We should also not forget that the app was just a small part of the wider NHS test and trace programme which has now launched nationally and which provides end to end testing and contact tracing.

"As we look to the future and the gradual easing of lockdown restrictions, we will continue to identify innovative ways in which to keep our community safe."

Islanders are being told they can now uninstall the app from their mobile phones.

Island MP Bob Seely said: “I am sad at the decision not to proceed with the app, but the important thing is that the Island played its role in testing it. The point of a trial is that we get to see if the app worked or not.

“The Island played its part well and most importantly proved its worth as a partner with central government.

“I want to thank everyone who downloaded the app and who contributed. The Island provided invaluable feedback to the NHS which has informed the future approach and direction of research.

“I will continue to champion the Island as the right place to pilot schemes. I will do so because we need to get the Island at the front of the queue, not the back, where we have been for too long. I am unapologetic about this.

“Once again, thank you to Islanders for their support for the app project."

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Islanders are being told they can now uninstall the app from their mobile phones
Islanders are being told they can now uninstall the app from their mobile phones
  • More than 54,000 people downloaded the app.
  • The trial will go on to inform the design of future developments.
Isle of Wight, UK