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Coronavirus app launches in the UK so we can all help track the spread

The COVID-19 tracker app will help us understand the spread (Apple/Rex/Getty)
The COVID-19 tracker app will help us understand the spread (Apple/Rex/Getty)

Researchers in the UK have launched a coronavirus tracking smartphone app and are urging everyone to use it to help us track the spread of the deadly disease.

The COVID-19 Symptom Tracker app can be downloaded for free for both iOS and Android devices. It asks users to put in details like their age, sex and postcode and then take one minute each day to report on whether or not they feel healthy.

If not, they can answer questions on a wide range of symptoms like a dry cough, fever or fatigue.

The app will help health officials build up a picture of how the virus is spreading through the UK and what can be done to help areas most at risk. The app was a collaborative effort from researchers at Kings College London and Guy’s and St Thomas’ hospitals alongside the health data company ZOE.

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‘These are worrying times for everyone. The more of the public that use the app, the better the real-time data we will have to combat the outbreak in this country,’ said Tim Spector, a professor of genetic epidemiology at King’s, who is leading the work.

While the app is being released to the general public, it is also being used specifically by 5,000 pairs of twins and their families across the UK.

COVID-19 tracker app hits app store
Users need to take just one minute a day to use the app (Apple)
COVID-19 tracker app hits app store
The app will kickstart a series of questions about symptoms (Apple)

‘Comparing genetically identical twins with non-identical twins, who are as related as regular siblings, will enable researchers to separate the effects of genes from environmental factors such as diet, lifestyle, previous illnesses and infections, and the microbes within the gut (microbiome),’ explained King’s.

‘Samples taken from the twin group will be used to generate a biobank for use in future research projects investigating infection and immune responses.’

If any of the twins report symptoms of the COVID-19 virus they will be sent a home testing kit for confirmation.

‘Our twins are fantastically committed, enthusiastic health research participants who have already been studied in unprecedented detail, putting us in a unique position to provide vital answers to support the global fight against COVID-19,’ Professor Spector said.

Working from home. In self isolation. Mask on.
The app is free and available for Android and iOS (Justin Paget Photography Ltd Photographer)

Europe and the US has recently become the epicenter of the worldwide pandemic.

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Latest figures show Italy has 63,928 confirmed cases, while Spain is the third-worst hit country in the world, with medics currently treating 39,673 patients struck with the virus.

More than 41,000 people have tested positive in the US, while New York alone has around 5% of the world’s cases with 12,305 infected.

According to the John Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Centre, 383,944 have tested positive worldwide, with 16,500 deaths. However, 101,911 people have recovered.

Although China still has the most confirmed cases (81,558),  rates have dramatically slowed and life is beginning to return to normal in the Hubei province where businesses are re-opening.

It is followed by Italy, the US, Spain and Germany with 29,560. France comes in seventh place with 20,149, Switzerland is ninth with 8,795 and the UK is just one behind.

Handout photo dated 24/03/20 issued by MoD showing soldiers from 4 Regiment, Royal Logistics Corps who have collected facemasks from Liverpool, delivering them to St Thomas' Hospital, London, as part of the COVID Support Force's efforts to support the government amidst the Coronavirus crisis. PA Photo. Issue date: Tuesday March 24, 2020. See PA story HEALTH Coronavirus. Photo credit should read: Dave Jenkins/MoD/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder.
St Thomas’ Hospital helped develop the app (PA)

All country leaders have imposed draconian restrictions to combat the spread of the virus and relieve some pressure on overworked, frontline medical workers who are working around the clock to save lives.

Director general of the WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, warned yesterday that the virus is spreading even faster and governments must step up to do more to combat it.

He tweeted: ‘The #Covid19 pandemic is accelerating. It took 67 days from the 1st reported case to reach the first 100K cases, 11 days for the second 100K cases & just 4 days for the third 100K cases.’

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Source: Metro News UK

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