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Health update: Top 5 questions about the NHS COVID-19 app

A message from Julie Webster, Wirral’s Director of Public Health.

Dear residents,

There have been several changes to self-isolation rules for COVID-19. In my previous blog, I confirmed that people who have been fully vaccinated (defined as two weeks after their final dose) within the UK and or those aged under 18 years, no longer need to self-isolate if they are identified as a close contact of a positive COVID-19 case. Lots of residents have been asking me how this will affect them, especially if they are using the NHS COVID-19 app.

The NHS COVID-19 app will be updated to reflect these changes in the following ways:

  • The app will now ask you to confirm your age and vaccination status in order to update the advice provided to you by the app.
  • The majority of people will not be advised to self-isolate.
  • If you are advised to self-isolate, the self-isolation countdown timer can help you keep track of your isolation days.

I have gathered some answers to five common questions about the app and these recent changes.

Q. How does the NHS COVID-19 app identify a close contact?

A. If you have been close to another app user who has tested positive for the virus, the app will take account of factors such as the amount of time you spent with them and how near you were to them. From these details, the app will calculate whether you are at risk of getting COVID-19. If a risk of infection is present, the app will issue an alert to you.


Q. Can the app read my Whatsapp messages - or track my location?

A. The app cannot track your location – it doesn’t use GPS – nor does it check or monitor if you are self-isolating or see personal information on your phone such as messages or contacts.


Q. Does the app know my personal details - such as my name and address?

A. The app doesn’t need to know WHO anyone is, or WHERE they are. The app is tracking the spread of the virus, not the movements or locations of app users.


Q. Will the QR code check-in reveal which places I've visited?

A. The QR code check-in feature works anonymously too. If you are alerted to a possible outbreak, it does so without identifying the venue or anyone who was there.


Q. Do I have to tell the app where I live for it to work out my risk?

A. For the app to alert you if your area becomes high risk, you will need to give the first few characters of your postcode. On average this covers 8,000 households and so it is not possible to personally identify you.


If you already have the NHS COVID-19 app, make sure you continue to use it to protect your loved ones. If you haven't downloaded it yet, please visit the App Store or Google Play to download. Learn more at

And please remember, although two doses of the vaccine will greatly reduce your own risk of becoming seriously unwell with COVID-19, it is still possible to contract the virus and pass it to others.

I strongly encourage everyone, even those fully vaccinated, to continue using the app and help control the spread of the virus.

Thanks for reading,