Coronavirus symptom tracker will act as ‘early warning radar device’ to medics

Coronavirus researchers have launched an app to help track the spread of COVID-19 in the UK by allowing users to track their symptoms.

The free COVID-19 Symptom Tracker is currently number one on the app store and aims to explore who is most at risk from the deadly virus.

King’s College London and Guy’s and St Thomas' hospitals developed the app alongside health data science company ZOE as an "early warning radar device."

Scientists hope the app will provide medics with information on how the disease is spreading and identify hotspots.

Users are asked to fill in data including age, sex and postcode as well as questions on existing medical conditions, such as heart disease, asthma and diabetes.

The app also asks participants whether they take drugs such as immunosuppressants or ibuprofen or use wheel chairs.

It then asks users to fill out a daily report on whether they feel healthy and if not, answer questions on symptoms they are experiencing.

Tim Spector, a professor of genetic epidemiology at King's College London, told The Guardian: "The concept is it is an early warning radar device because we are asking about non-classical symptoms as well, because many people are reporting non-persistent cough, or feeling unwell or a strange feeling of a lack of taste or chest tightness that aren’t in the classical list but if we see it across the country in clusters we know they are probably real symptoms of Covid-19.

"Speaking to clinicians in the hospital, especially in the elderly you get very different symptoms to the young so this idea there is only two types of symptoms – fever and long-term cough – is wrong. It can occur in many different ways."

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The COVID-19 tracker has been well-received by the general public after Boris Johnson announced the NHS would no longer be testing individuals who are not critically sick.

One APP user on Twitter, said: "Wish the NHS would just test people, but this looks to be a good way to track the spread and get an idea on the ACTUAL number of cases in the UK."

A second added: "Covid symptom tracker, nations that have used a similar app (Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea) seem to have managed to slow the spread."

South Korea's app, developed by the Ministry of the Interior and Safety, also tracked individuals using GPS to see if they strayed outside permitted quarantine zones.

The UK currently has more than 450 dead and 8,000 confirmed cases, but the government has suggested the actual figure could be significantly higher.

  • Coronavirus

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