Published: 4 September 2020
The COVID Tracker App has been downloaded over a million times and sent close contact notifications to over 900 people. We are now issuing guidance for health care workers and GPs that wear PPE when providing care to patients.
We encourage all health care workers and GPs to download and use the app, but there are some simple steps you will need to take to ensure that you do not receive close contact alerts when the risk of transmission is reduced or non-existent due to the use of PPE.
Using the app during patient care
If you are caring for patients while wearing PPE, the COVID Tracker app will not be able to distinguish that you are in PPE. Therefore, if you spend more than 15 minutes within 2 metres of a patient who subsequently tests positive for COVID-19, the app may identify you as being a close contact.
See advice below on how to avoid exposure notifications when you are in PPE. Please note the advice is different for Apple and Android users. If you use an iPhone please follow iPhone advice. Android advice applies to all other smartphones.
The recommendation from Public Health is that GPs and other healthcare workers involved in patient care should turn Bluetooth off when they begin patient care, and importantly remember to switch it back on when you finish work at shift or session end.
Apple are updating the Exposure Information System and how it works within iPhones. You can now turn off contact tracing by just turning Bluetooth on and off. When in full PPE or in a shielded environment please disable Bluetooth
- Open your iPhone’s Settings and tap Bluetooth.
- Tap to turn Bluetooth on or off.
Please remember to turn Bluetooth back on again when your session at work finishes.
This will prevent you from receiving anonymous close contact alerts from the app while you are wearing PPE. Any close contact events in a clinical setting will still be picked up by the manual contact tracing process.
The recommendation from Public Health is that GPs and other healthcare workers involved in patient care should turn off the contact tracing feature in the app when they begin patient care, and importantly remember to switch it back on when you finish work at shift or session end.
This guidance only applies to staff who wear PPE when providing care to patients. All other staff can carry on using the app as normal. Click here for more PPE guidance.
If you receive a close contact alert
If you are a health care worker and you receive a close contact alert, you should request a call back from the contact tracing team. The team will tell you what steps to take. Always follow HPSC protocols and any local guidelines on what to do if you are in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.