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Bangla sanglap desk: Mayor of Newham Rokhsana Fiaz and Mayor of London Sadiq Khan teamed up on #DownloadThursday to mobilise local residents to use the new Covid-19 NHS Test and Trace app on their mobile phones and businesses to display Quick Response (QR) check-in posters in their premises.

Mayor Fiaz and Mayor Khan promoted the NHS app during a visit to Newham’s walk-in coronavirus test centre in East Ham, which since it opened in June has completed almost 9,000 tests and is currently running at more than 200 tests per day.

The mobile phone app was launched on 21 August with more than 300,000 Newham residents receiving a letter, text message, or email, with a unique code encouraging them to download it. Businesses in Newham have also been encouraged to download and display unique QR check-in posters as part of a borough-wide community effort to stop the spread of Covid-19. Newham is one of just two locations in the country where the app is being piloted. The other is the Isle of Wight.

More than 7,000 businesses and venues are being encouraged to download vital QR check-in codes. Restaurants, cafes, shops, salons, leisure centres, or places of worship, and others, are being encouraged to display the codes so that app users can scan them when they visit participating venues. If people visit the venue or place of business and later test positive for coronavirus, other app users who were there at the same time can be sent an alert. Any businesses, venues and premises that use the code will not be identified or detected as part of robust privacy features that track the virus, not people or venues.

Mayor Fiaz said: “We decided to early adopt the app in Newham so that we can assess it on behalf of the rest of London and the country, and provide valuable feedback so that it’s the best that it can be before it is rolled out across the nation. If we show the app works here, then it will work anywhere, and that’s important for the safety of all Londoners as well as the Capital’s economy.

“The more people that sign up and the more businesses that display their QR check-in posters, the more effective the app becomes in stopping the spread of this life-threatening virus and the quicker we get back to doing the things we love. The best way for that to happen is for as many of our residents and businesses as possible to take part in #DownloadThursday and be part of assessing the app so that we can provide valuable feedback before the national roll-out. We’re encouraging businesses and venues to display the official NHS check-in posters at the entrances of their premises to help support our contact test and tracing in Newham.”

During the visit Mayor Khan met local health service practitioners, business representatives, community leaders, and some of Newham’s Covid-19 Health Champions. Mayor Khan said: “I am pleased to be in Newham to see first-hand how the Council is supporting the community in the fight against Covid-19.

“Newham residents have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic due to the health inequalities they face, but thanks to their monumental efforts they have slowed the spread of the virus. It’s vital that we all continue to follow the Public health guidance to prevent a second wave, and I urge Newham residents to download the app and do all they can to protect each other.”

To support and encourage take up of the app, Newham Council has been tapping into its innovative Covid-19 Health Champions network of more than 300 local residents, which was set up to help disseminate vital public health guidance across its diverse communities about how best to keep safe while continuing to deal with the challenge of Covid-19 living and averting a second wave in the borough. The Champions are kept updated on developments through regular Zoom meetings, webinars and WhatsApp groups, and disseminate the information direct into the community.

Newham Council has also held more than 30 Zoom engagement sessions with voluntary sector groups, faith representatives, business leaders, councillors and young people. In addition, working closely with all local health partners, the Council has been collaborating with all Newham GPs, who have sent text messages to their patients about the importance of downloading the app and using it to help the local Covid-19 test and trace effort across all communities. Because of this, the NHS national app team were keen to work in collaboration with Newham Council to trial the app as an ‘early adopter’, along with the Isle of Wight and NHS volunteers across the country.

Mayor Fiaz added: “Newham experienced some of the most significant impacts of Covid-19 due to the health inequalities and vulnerabilities in our communities. Almost 1,500 residents here have tested positive for coronavirus, and tragically more than 300 have died. My thoughts and condolences are with their loved ones. These lives lost are a constant reminder that the risk of Covid-19 is still around us and we must do everything we can to reduce its transmission in our communities as restrictions lift, people go back to work and schools re-open.

“We’re encouraging all residents and local businesses to play their part in stopping the spread of Covid-19 through all the important public health requirements like washing your hands, wearing a face covering and keeping distance from others. The app is a welcome addition to our local test and trace public health approach in Newham. It’s really easy to use, can be downloaded in different languages and has the most optimal privacy measures available which means all your personal data stays on your own phone and you can of course delete it at any time if you really want to.

“Before the national roll out, feedback from our residents and local businesses about the app will be integrated, and Newham can stand proud that we’ve contributed to this critical national effort.”

The app is available in multiple languages, starting with English, Urdu, Punjabi, Bangla and Gujarati, with more languages to be added so that everyone can benefit from latest cutting edge technology, including from Google and Apple. It was also used in New Zealand, which has set a gold standard in the international fight against the virus by managing to keep Covid-19 cases to a minimum.


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