GLOBE readers are being urged to download a new Covid tracing app to help halt the virus' spread as case numbers rise in the borough.

The NHS COVID-19 app, launching across the country today after positive trials and rigorous testing, is hailed as an important new tool to work alongside traditional contact tracing to help reduce the spread.

Its message is simple: 'Protect your loved ones. Get the app'

Available for use by people aged 16 and over, it is described as a central part of the NHS Test and Trace service, which aims to identify contacts of those who have tested positive for coronavirus.

Features include contact tracing using Bluetooth, risk alerts based on postcode district, QR check-in at venues, symptom checker and test booking. 

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It will also launch on primetime TV tonight with the strapline Protect your loved ones. Get the app.

Launching the app, Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said: "We are at a tipping point in our efforts to control the spread of this virus.

"With infection rates rising we must use every tool at our disposal to prevent transmission, including the latest technology.

"We have worked extensively with tech companies, international partners, and privacy and medical experts – and learned from the trials – to develop an app that is secure, simple to use and will help keep our country safe.

“Today's launch marks an important step forward in our fight against this invisible killer and I urge everyone who can to download and use the app to protect themselves and their loved ones."

Figures show that in the seven days to September 17, the number of new cases in Wirral rose to 106.2 per 100,000 people, with 344 new positive cases.

That's up from 313 the previous week - a rate of 96.6.

In Liverpool the figure during the same period was 138.1 per 100,000 people, with 688 new cases.

Because of this Wirral and the wider Merseyside region is now an 'area of intervention' and local lockdown restrictions have been imposed on the area.

It is hoped the app will help control the virus' spread.

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

How does it work?

The contact tracing element of the app works by using low-energy Bluetooth to log the amount of time you spend near other app users, and the distance between you, so it can alert you if someone you have been close to later tests positive for COVID-19 – even if you don't know each other.

The app will advise you to self-isolate if you have been in close contact with a confirmed case.

It will also enable you to check symptoms, book a free test if needed and get your test results.

The developers say it has been designed with user privacy in mind, so it tracks the virus not people, and uses the latest in data security technology to protect privacy.

It does not hold personal information such as your name, address or date of birth, and only requires the first half of your postcode to ensure local outbreaks can be managed.

No personal data is shared with the government or the NHS.

QR codes will help businesses meet their legal requirement to log contact details and allow public health leads to send alerts based on whether people have checked in at venues.

So far, more than 160,000 businesses have already downloaded QR codes. 

The app has been through successful trials in the Isle of Wight, Newham and among NHS Volunteer Responders and lessons learned have informed the final version that is launching today.

Dido Harding, executive chair of England's NHS Test and Trace Programme, said: "We want to make it as easy as possible for everyone to engage with England’s NHS Test and Trace service.

"The NHS COVID-19 app enables the majority of people with a smartphone to find out if they are at risk of having caught the virus and need to self isolate, order a test if they have symptoms, and access the right guidance and advice.

"This is a welcome step in protecting those around us."