‘A new way of life’: UK launches COVID-19 contact tracing system with voluntary self-isolation

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Credit: NHS

A test-and-trace system to find and isolate people who come into contact with coronavirus will be launched in the U.K. on [May 28].

People with no symptoms will be told to self-isolate for 14 days if they have been in close contact with someone with the coronavirus, as part of the scheme. The program is voluntary, but Prime Minister Boris Johnson said sanctions could be brought in if people did not comply.

Health secretary Matt Hancock unveiled the program and said it would need to become a “new way of life,” adding that it would allow the country to replace the national lockdown with “individual isolation.” A number of U.S. states have also been scrambling to set up contact tracing teams as many begin to emerge from lockdown.

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However, the U.K.’s much-anticipated contract tracing app being tested on the Isle of Wight [was not launched in May].

Hancock said those testing positive will then have to work “like detectives” to identify people they have been in close contact with — within 2 meters for more than 15 minutes in the previous two days.

Johnson said that asking people who are asymptomatic to self-isolate would be a “huge imposition” but would only apply to a small minority of the population.

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