back to article Laughing UK health secretary launches COVID-19 Test and Trace programme with glitchy website and no phone app

Launched with website glitches and no associated phone app, England's Test and Trace programme - expected to help lift the nation safely out of its COVID-19 lockdown - went live this morning. As befitting for its leader Baroness Dido Harding, the former TalkTalk CEO who was christened queen of carnage for her role in the telco …

  1. keithpeter Silver badge
    Coat

    SERCO?

    I gather that the tracers are recruited, employed, and trained by Serco.

    https://www.theguardian.com/business/2013/dec/19/offender-electronic-tagging-serco-repay-68m-overcharging

    One hopes there has been a change of culture since then.

    I'm going to avoid the usual 'what could possibly go wrong' comment because we really need a system that works, in the sense of allowing local measures to deal with clusters, to avoid economic meltdown.

    1. Mr Dogshit

      Re: SERCO?

      Yep. Could have used local government employees or the military, but better just to spunk a load of money on .gov's favourite outsourcer instead.

  2. Zog_but_not_the_first
    Facepalm

    C'mon...

    Where are Crapita? They have to be in there somewhere, Shirley?

  3. Commswonk Silver badge

    Oh No Surely Not...

    In a decidedly low-tech scheme, the plan is for those testing positive for COVID-19 to get phone calls from NHS tracers, who will ask them who they have been in contact with.

    AIUI the "NHS tracer" will not tell you who it is that you have been (or may have been) in contact with that has reported developing symptoms. On the strength of that you are supposed to tell the "NHS tracer" the names and contact info for any others with whom you have been in contact since.

    Put another way any 'phone call from an "NHS tracer" has to be taken at face value without any obvious means of verifying that the caller is indeed an "NHS tracer".

    OTOH anyone claiming to be from my bank has to be ignored along with any other caller with suspect credentials.

    No wonder the Health Secretary was laughing...

    TWAT

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Oh No Surely Not...

      'Ring Ring' - 'Contact tracing?' - 'Yes - i'm really ill, cough, fever, can't taste anything' - 'Contacts? - let's think - there was that bloke I met with his wife and kid in Barnard Castle, and then when I was on the cliff's at Dover there as this dodgy looking geezer....'

    2. keithpeter Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Oh No Surely Not...

      Verification: OK daft question (this is Serco) why not...

      Issue each call a unique case number

      If caller asks for verification, advise caller to ring off, ring number listed on Web site and on posters, go thru' the menu and give the case number

      System then connects caller to advisor who has the relevant details including the time that the caller rang off...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Oh No Surely Not...

        I wonder if this will ever be used as a stitch up to someone that someone else doesn't like.

        It is a 14 day quarantine - so, i assume there must be a challenge process, or confirmation process.

        1. Long John Silver
          Pirate

          Re: Oh No Surely Not...

          Don't make assumptions about how Johnson's gang of clowns organise things.

        2. Jellied Eel Silver badge

          Re: Oh No Surely Not...

          It is a 14 day quarantine - so, i assume there must be a challenge process, or confirmation process.

          Of course, dear Citizen! First wait for our team of safety experts to collect all sharp objects from your home. Then it'll be a matter of a few moments to screw all your windows & doors closed. This can be achieved from outside, so you'll face minimal disturbance. Finally, to prevent any potentially harmful contamination, your home will be wrapped in several layers of heavy duty heat shrink film*.

          If after 14 days, you still feel symptom-free, call one of our operators to have your communications devices re-enabled, and wait for your personal copy of the 'Welcoming you back to Society!' DVD to be delivered.

          *In the case of people living in semi, terraced or other forms of MDU, we will protect everyone by wrapping the entire structure, at no additional cost!

          **To the occupier. Or at least not directly. We'll be paid by TPTB at only £7.99 per mm^2

          1. quartzz

            Re: Oh No Surely Not...

            all joking aside, I'll assume there is a government approved sticker on the DVD, saying 'please rewind after use'. I might remove this comment..

        3. katrinab Silver badge

          Re: Oh No Surely Not...

          Right now, the quarantine is voluntary.

        4. Roland6 Silver badge

          Re: Oh No Surely Not...

          >I wonder if this will ever be used as a stitch up...

          Given the general expectations around this (contact tracing), I was reminded of this 1975 Idi Amin parody:

          "kindly get out, put your hands in the air and await further instructions"

      2. deive

        Re: Oh No Surely Not...

        you'd think so, but my bank can't even handle that!

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Unhappy

      Re: Oh No Surely Not...

      In a decidedly low-tech scheme, the plan is for those testing positive for COVID-19 to get phone calls from NHS tracers, who will ask them who they have been in contact with.

      Oh God, this means that the NHS tracing scheme is going to be riddled with bugs and open to abuse too.

      Pretend NHS tracers, griefers who finger anybody they don't like, and contacts with unknown names or phone numbers who would need actual legwork to track down just for starters.

      And since most of the tracers are being paid near minimum wage, and probably have to meet some sort of targets, they are going to mess up big time too. Just count the ways - they are going to be getting names wrong, phoning the wrong people, misunderstanding what they are told, gaming whatever target system they have to meet (let's hope it isn't "you have to lock down an average of fifty people a day to keep your job") etc.

      1. Graham Newton

        Re: Oh No Surely Not...

        My Wife is a track and tracer and is employed by the NHS and is certainly not doing it at at minimum wage. There are also no targets.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Happy

          Re: Oh No Surely Not...

          My Wife is a track and tracer and is employed by the NHS and is certainly not doing it at at minimum wage. There are also no targets.

          Good for her. I assume she is one of the 3,000 trained professionals. The other 83% of the contact tracing workforce - 15,000 of them - are Contact Tracer Customer Service Advisors on £9.42 per hour, which is minimum wage + 70p. See for example, https://apply.staffingplatform.co.uk/vacancy/preview?id=33951

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Oh No Surely Not...

            This was on Radio 4 yesterday (they were talking to an ex-junior doctor academic). Those on near minimum wage just take the incoming calls from people who think they might be positivie. The clinical tracers are the ones who make the outgoing calls to those who are confirmed positive.

            1. keithpeter Silver badge

              Re: Oh No Surely Not...

              "This was on Radio 4 yesterday (they were talking to an ex-junior doctor academic). Those on near minimum wage just take the incoming calls from people who think they might be positivie. The clinical tracers are the ones who make the outgoing calls to those who are confirmed positive."

              Numbers look wrong way round for that.

              Fred(a) gets a positive test, phones up, gives minimum wage person the contact list with (say) 10 names.

              Clinical tracers have to do 10 phone calls, each of which could generate n new contacts, including Freda of course

              One new positive test generates a large cascade of follow ups.

    4. Brangdon

      Re: Oh No Surely Not...

      The phone call will tell you to go on the website and enter a case number. It's only if you don't have internet that you need to trust the caller.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Good and bad

    "In a decidedly low-tech scheme, the plan is for those testing positive for COVID-19 to get phone calls from NHS tracers, who will ask them who they have been in contact with [GOOD]. Any of those contacts deemed to be at risk will be advised to self-isolate for 14 days even if they are not ill [BAD]"

    IMHO, the basic contact tracing is a good thing. Normally done face to face (or mask to mask) to emphasize the gravity of the situation. A phone call is weaker, but its still contact tracing.

    But you don't call those contacts and ask then to self isolate for 14 days. You slap them with a mandatory mask wearing "a mask is on its way, wear it":, and mandatory test order "GO GET TESTED HERE AT X TIME T", and orders with clear cut rules they *have* to follow. They're not the experts in disease control, you are, *you* dictate to *them* the quarantine rules they are *required* to follow so its crystal clear the gravity of the situation. If they test positive quarantine their ass too.

    I assume you mandatory quarantine the infected person? Otherwise its just people talking on phones.

    You stick them in a quarantine center, with clear orders and food and tv? In Thailand these are nice >3 star hotels they've taken over, the person has to stay in their rooms, but food towels and linen are delivered. The quarantined person complains about too much plastic food boxes spoiling the environment. which shows you the low level of complaints. "Ooo the sushi I got today didn't have the proper fatty tuna, only regular tuna" blah blah blah.

    You understand why I have zero doubts about going out to a restaurant in Thailand now. I'm even booking my trips for the year. Confident in the handling of the virus. Not some sort of vague fluffy 'advice'. I know that if a person is infected, they are in quarantine, and their contacts are being tested and quarantined as needed.

    You're the leader Boris, so lead. Don't take shit from the back benchers, fix it, clear the virus, end it, move on with confidence. Thatcher not Major.

    1. katrinab Silver badge

      Re: Good and bad

      Another point. Thinking of who I've been in contact with in the past two weeks:

      Well, I walked to the town centre, visited Sainsburys, and took the bus back with my shopping. I have the Apple Pay log of my bus fare, which will enable them to trace which bus I was on. They will be able to get the driver, but the other passenger on the bus? Probably not. The other people in Sainsburys?

      When I was taking my rubbish out at lunch time, the post man came out of the neighbouring property and briefly ended up about a meter away from me.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Good and bad

        To be fair - the 'definition' of contact is <2 metres for >15 minutes, so unless there's more to your innocent brush past the postman than you are admitting.....

        1. James Anderson

          Re: Good and bad

          However as the most likely route of infection is from an infected surface to victims hand to victims face/food, the likelihood of knowing who sneezed on said surface two hours ago is almost nil.

          At least a location based app could send enough data to identify sufferers who were at the same place and notify anyone else who was there to go and get tested.

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: Good and bad

            "However as the most likely route of infection is from an infected surface"

            Are you sure? I thought droplet and aerosol were now considered the main routes.

            1. Long John Silver
              Pirate

              Re: Good and bad

              I am sure. It is the same for common colds and seasonal 'flu.

              Fomites (infection vectors from secretions deposited on surfaces) are overwhelmingly the principal means of transmission other than being in close proximity (when outdoors not the 2 metre silliness) with an infected person who is coughing, sneezing, or wheezing.

              The point being, rather than all the current expensive and futile nonsense two pieces of advice ought be reiterated frequently without additional messages causing confusion: hand hygiene and stay indoors if a cough etc. develops until you are certain it is not Covid-19 infection.

              A simple measure potentially far more cost-effective than contact tracing is free of charge issuance to everybody of containers of anti-viral hand-gel which can be carried in pockets.

              1. Screwed
                WTF?

                Re: Good and bad

                "stay indoors"

                Why? Just please, someone, somewhere, explain why my being inside my house makes it safer for others than being in my garden, at least several metres from either neighbour.

                If we took that literally, it also precludes our being able to put rubbish out, so rotting food will accumulate. Allow our car battery to die.

                (Yes, I know we are lucky to have the circumsatnces which would, in my view, allow going outside.)

                1. Handlebars

                  Re: Good and bad

                  Let's read that as 'stay home' which was the published advice. If you have symptoms then of course _you're_ not safer indoors, but everyone else is safer if you don't go any further from home than putting the bins out.

            2. Joe W Silver badge

              Re: Good and bad

              Interesting case from Germany: A Baptist congregation obeyed the rules except the face mask wearing and no singing for last (or before) Sunday's mass. 200 infected a week later...

              This seems to point towards aerosols.

              1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

                Re: Good and bad

                Communion wine? Or am I barking up the wrong ecumenical tree?

                1. Sirius Lee

                  Re: Good and bad

                  Shared bibles, touching pew surfaces, loo flush handles? I agree, many more vectors than an aerosol.

                2. TRT Silver badge

                  Re: Good and bad

                  Do baptists do the communion wine thing?

              2. David 140

                Re: Good and bad

                My thoughts too. I have also seen several articles which say that Singing brings extra risk - maybe because people are inhaling more deeply and exhaling more enthusiastically?

          2. Brangdon

            Re: most likely route of infection

            According to the CDC, fomites are not the main way the virus spreads. It can happen, but it's rare compared with face to face transmission. Reducing R0 is about addressing the most common vectors.

        2. Qarumba

          Re: Good and bad

          If that really is the definition then it confirms what a waste of time and effort this is. Who goes around with a measuring tape and a stopwatch?!

          Does 1.99m count as less than 2m? Does 901s count as more than 15 minutes?

          Did the advice say approximately 2m and approximately 15 minutes?

          Honestly, I have no confidence in any of the so-called scientific advice allegedly being given to us by these ministers.

          1. katrinab Silver badge
            Boffin

            Re: Good and bad

            The probability of infection increases the closer you get. 2 meters was chosen because it is a point where the probability is very low, not zero though, and allows for the possibility of your measurements being a cm out. And it is also a nice round number that people can remember.

            Likewise with the 15 minute rule.

    2. Cederic Silver badge

      Re: Good and bad

      Given how hard many members of the public have found complying with the existing rules, expecting a mandatory quarantine to be effective is horribly optimistic.

      Moving them to another location for that quarantine even more so. People have dependents and other commitments; being in quarantine is bad enough, being entirely unavailable means that other arrangements would be required, at additional cost and difficulty.

      The UK Government approach has always been one of preferring common sense and light touch control, rather than a heavy handed authoritarian approach. While the benefits of both approaches can be debated and the effectiveness of both (particularly in a cultural context) will vary, I am definitely more welcoming to the less authoritarian option.

      My issue with this initiative is that I just don't trust in Dido or her capabilities.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Good and bad

        "being in quarantine is bad enough, being entirely unavailable means that other arrangements would be required, at additional cost and difficulty."

        Not a problem. You can safely and legally drive at least 260 miles to take your dependants somewhere safe, even while infected and showing symptoms. This matter is now closed.

    3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Good and bad

      Sort of. The problem is that a contact is assumed to be an infection.

      Just a little while ago when various testing methods were being assessed and dismissed because they didn't meet quality criteria in terms of false negatives and/or positives. What quality criteria have been attached to this process? What impact assessment has been made on the consequences of people spending time in self-isolation for 14 days as a result of the false positives which will occur?

      In a couple of weeks time we're going to hear the first complaints. In about six weeks time we'll be hearing the complaints from those who've gone through two periods of self-isolation with no symptoms. In eight weeks or so the whole shambles will be thoroughly discredited unless Hancock does what should be blindingly obvious now: test all contacts, with an initial isolation needed only until the test result is available and continued isolation only for positive responses.

      1. Long John Silver
        Pirate

        Re: Good and bad

        Another factor is that it will encourage neurosis within a population already confused by cock-eyed advice, stern admonitions, and ill-informed police officers.

        The sad reality is of few among the general population being capable of assessing individual risks, weighing one risk with another, and factoring in consequences of overreaction. Importantly, people must be made aware that there is no such thing as zero risk for anybody who is not in isolation, and even then it cannot be actually zero.

        Worse is this ignorance among supposedly educated government ministers and among some of their chosen advisers, scientists, whose perspective can be very narrow, rather than disease control practitioners who grasp the bigger picture.

      2. ibmalone Silver badge

        Re: Good and bad

        Even offering to test before a week is up would be an improvement, cut most people's isolation time in half (you do have to wait for enough virus to develop to be detectable). And they should give thought to providing antibody tests for those people too, we don't know yet whether you can catch it a second time, or for how long you might be immune, but that data must be starting to come in and would deal with the repeated isolation issue.

        Some work on the different strategies for combining tracing with testing of contacts https://cmmid.github.io/topics/covid19/tracing-network-local.html

        Reducing the severity of isolation would improve compliance. Right now in other countries that have this they are finding people don't give many contacts. Why? One reason is their employers have told them not to so their workforce don't all end up isolating. They've also created a perverse incentive where if I think I might get coronavirus I'm better trying to catch it before anyone else does, so I'm only isolating for half the time.

    4. Ian Johnston Silver badge

      Re: Good and bad

      But you don't call those contacts and ask then to self isolate for 14 days. You slap them with a mandatory mask wearing "a mask is on its way, wear it":, and mandatory test order "GO GET TESTED HERE AT X TIME T", and orders with clear cut rules they *have* to follow. They're not the experts in disease control, you are, *you* dictate to *them* the quarantine rules they are *required* to follow so its crystal clear the gravity of the situation. If they test positive quarantine their ass too.

      Great. So I can get anyone I don't like locked up for two weeks simply by giving their name. That could be fun.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Good and bad

        Get them fired. Get them divorced. Get them... well, yeah... if you know their first name and house number would probably be enough to end their normal lifestyle. :(

        Hopefully, the worse case senario here is it gets dropped/cancelled due to errors and trolls. Every seen Youtubes comment section or reporting system? Gamed and trolled to oblivion.

      2. Danny 14 Silver badge

        Re: Good and bad

        Yep, that draft dodging hippy has been playing that crap again. Best call the covid cops.

      3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Good and bad

        "Great. So I can get anyone I don't like locked up for two weeks simply by giving their name. That could be fun."

        You know they don't contact you to trace possible infections until after your test comes back positive, don't you? I would also expect the contact tracer to ask the infected person where they met their suspected infectees. If I get a call from a contact tracer I'll be asking them where and when I supposedly met this person so I could confirm the accuracy or otherwise of the claim. No need to know who it is or pass on any personal data. I very much doubt the contact tracers will simply bas asking for names and addresses because that's not enough information. They need to know the risk level too, ie were you close to the person for a significant length of time.

    5. Long John Silver
      Pirate

      Re: Good and bad

      Certainly not Churchill.

  5. Forget It
    Coat

    do grandiose brandish

    that's an anagram of Baroness Dido Harding

    just saying.

    1. John H Woods Silver badge

      Re: do grandiose brandish

      I think the Telegraph Crossword compiler discovered the best anagram so far:

      Easily survives travel north to castle... A disaster for this contrary advice? (4,5; 7,3,5; 4,5)

      (The anagram of EASILY SURVIVES TRAVEL NORTH TO CASTLE is (Rot13)

      FGNL NYREG PBAGEBY GUR IVEHF FNIR YVIRF

    2. Phil E Succour

      Re: do grandiose brandish

      So is

      I hid Dad's organ boners

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Self support

    Hop over to Mumsnet - a whole thread devoted to contact tracers who are basically forming a self-supporting user community to try and get on with the task they are given, in the absence of meaningful training or support from their employer.

    1. Ian Johnston Silver badge

      Re: Self support

      Hop over to Mumsnet - a whole thread devoted to contact tracers who are basically forming a self-supporting user community to try and get on with the task they are given, in the absence of meaningful training or support from their employer.

      Dear God, they've given the job of contact tracing to Mumsnet users? We're all doomed. They'll spend all their time diagnosing each other with PTSD and anxiety and accusing everyone they have to contact of being a narcissist.

  7. Mr Humbug

    So how will it go?

    Phone rings

    Voice: Hello Mr Humbug, the is NHS Track and Trace. You have been in contact with a known COVID-19 case and must stay home for two weeks.

    Me: Gosh how distressing, Can you verify that you're from NHS track and Trace?

    Voice: You can check the number I'm calling from.

    Me: But numbers can be spoofed. Anyway, who was I in contact with?

    Voice: I can't tell you that.

    Me: OK then, where and when was I in contact with them?

    Voice: I can't tell you that either.

    Me: So you want me to stay home for 14 days on the word of an unknown caller who can't verify any of the information they are telling me?

    Voice: Yes, it's very important that you do.

    Me: Goodbye.

    It's all going to go so well, isn't it?

    1. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: So how will it go?

      This smacks of Noddy and Big Ears developing an app, finding out is is not much good and then getting Mr Plod in to enforce it anyway.

      Of course it still won't work but covid 19!

      I have a feeling there is more than one TWAT involved in all of this.

      Welcome to the New Normal™

      1. Long John Silver
        Pirate

        Re: So how will it go?

        I recollect a story in which Noddy wanted to build a house, starting with the roof.

        1. Trigonoceps occipitalis Silver badge

          Re: So how will it go?

          Jackblock Construction Technique

          "The building method starts by constructing the roof at ground level."

          Spit the bones out of that Big Ears!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So how will it go?

      What's Hancock's number?

    3. ibmalone Silver badge

      Re: So how will it go?

      There is apparently a process now, outlined somewhere on gov.uk and in a BBC explainer, you should be directed to log on to the test and trace website, https://www.gov.uk/guidance/nhs-test-and-trace-how-it-works includes the usual "we will never ask you for" list. Not that anybody will have actually seen this, so definitely open season for scammers.

      Their data use policy is... interesting. https://contact-tracing.phe.gov.uk/help/privacy-notice details of those testing positive will be held for 20 years. Purposes of use, sketchy. Basis of processing is public interest and official authority, so no consent required.

      Here are the purposes of use:

      * enable patients with COVID-19 to provide the details of people they have been in close contact with and who may have been infected with coronarvirus

      * manage the process of tracing these contacts to find out if they have any COVID-19 symptoms and if so, to provide advice on how to seek help

      * help monitor the numbers of people infected with COVID-19 and the numbers of contacts who have been traced

      I'm not an epidemiologist, but I think they probably need to get contacts traced in less than 20 years.

      1. ibmalone Silver badge

        Re: So how will it go?

        You know, I re-read that list, and see nothing about monitoring people's compliance with isolation...

  8. Danny 2 Silver badge

    I want to punch Matt Hancock

    He is probably the best of them but he has a resting Nazi face.

    Tories with teeth should not be a thing while I miss my dentist more than than my youth.

    1. Cederic Silver badge

      Re: I want to punch Matt Hancock

      You sound very angry and unhappy. Are you ok? Would it help if we found you professional assistance?

      1. Teiwaz

        Re: I want to punch Matt Hancock

        Arnold Rimmer once confessed he thought he was a eunuch in previous life as when he was in the presence of a group of women, he had the overwhelming urge to bathe them in warm olive oil. Lister stated he had that urge too, so it was nothing to do with past lives.

        The Matt Hancock urge is a similar urge.

        i.e. more likely a natural human urge, and not a personal affliction.

        Plus, how much of the NHS Mental Health budget would be squandered trying to cure everyone of that...

        1. Jean Le PHARMACIEN

          Re: I want to punch Matt Hancock

          Careful, I have met the 'original' Rimmer whom the character was based on. Yes, he is a complete A@se an w@n#er

          Know his brother too, ( of the original 'Rimmer'), quite opinionated but admits his older brother is a complete A@se..

      2. Danny 2 Silver badge

        Re: I want to punch Matt Hancock

        "Would it help if we found you professional assistance?"

        Yes, if it was a dentist. I would, well it'd be rude to say what I would do if you found me a dentist, but currently next to toothless so use your imagination.

        Angry and unhappy is a perfectly accurate descriptor. No offence taken. True.

        I miss my dentist more than my first love. Or any of them.

        1. Cederic Silver badge

          Re: I want to punch Matt Hancock

          Dentists should be available again from 8th June. It may be helpful to contact them now to secure an early appointment.

  9. Gordon861

    So you get a positive result on a test, quick WhatsApp to your friends "Who wants another two weeks off on full pay?"

    End up reading off a long list of names and numbers to the friendly NHS Ttrack and Trace person. Yes this will go well.

    I also heard a report on the radio earlier that the plan is to hold onto all contacts data for 20 years for 'research purposes'.

    1. Velv
      Mushroom

      "the plan is to hold onto all contacts data for 20 years for 'research purposes'"

      I hope somebody finds written proof of this soon. This government has already lost the trust of the public, this is another nail in the coffin.

      Can we storm Parliament and undertake a revolution? Can't wait for the next General Election, the country won't be here in four years.

      1. Gordon861

        Guardian

        https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/may/28/nhs-will-keep-personal-data-of-people-with-coronavirus-for-20-years--uk-test-and-trace-programme

        Telegraph (paywall so can't read it)

        https://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/2020/05/28/nhs-fire-plans-store-track-trace-data-20-years/

        New Statesman

        https://tech.newstatesman.com/coronavirus/nhs-test-and-trace-privacy-doc-throws-doubt-on-apps-anonymity-claims

        Expect to see The Register take on it soon.

        1. Joe W Silver badge

          I think it got covered here, but I'm too lazy to search...

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Why rely on 3rd party reports when you can get it direct from Public Health England?

          https://contact-tracing.phe.gov.uk/help/privacy-notice

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      So you get a positive result on a test, quick WhatsApp to your friends "Who wants another two weeks off on full pay?"

      Even better, this can be repeated indefinitely because there's currently no guarantee that a bout of COVID confers immunity. You will therefore be told to self-isolate even if you've had the illness in the past.

    3. ibmalone Silver badge

      They wont necessarily be on full pay, the advice is that employees should work from home if possible. If not employers have the option to put you on sick leave or offer to let you take your annual leave allowance, all you actually have to be paid if you can't work remotely is statutory sick pay.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      You have a very devious mindset. :D

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        The trolling...

        You can be absolutely certain that there will be a black market in names and phone numbers of "people to get put away for a while"

        I suspect certain Government advisors will be getting daily calls. Sorry, I mean hourly.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Chair of NHS Improvement

    Baroness Dildo Hardon has been appointed as Chair of NHS Improvement for 4 years from 30 October 2017.

    The appointment will involve a time commitment of 2 to 3 days per week. Remuneration for the role will be at a rate of £63,000 per annum.

    https://publicappointments.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/appointment/chair-nhs-improvement/

    Nice gig if you can get it!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Chair of NHS Improvement

      ^ Nice find!!

      I know it's childish of me, but I can't help but notice they've got a "Ron Kerr" on the Assessment Panel. I'm sure he's a lovely person really, so I shouldn't be mean just because of their name, but it is a funny name; I think it's because I've been in lock-down for too long or something! :D

      1. Aussie Doc Bronze badge
        Pint

        Re: Chair of NHS Improvement

        I think I worked with his brother, Wayne.

        Wayne Kerr.

        1. Spacedinvader
          Pint

          Re: Chair of NHS Improvement

          I actually did work with a chap with that name...

  11. Lazlo Woodbine

    Be interested in knowing how they're going to contact me, I'm ex-directory and both my mobile and landline reject withheld numbers - a consequence of my details being leaked by Talk Talk...

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      ex-directory only means you are not listed in the current public directory. Anyone with authorised access can still get to the full listing, or anyone with a directory from before you went ex-directory, assuming you have the same address and phone number of course.

  12. Long John Silver
    Pirate

    Clowns at play?

    Instead of all this nonsense why don't these people do something guaranteed to be helpful? I propose free of charge issuance to every person of pocket containers of anti-viral hand gel. Too simple perhaps?

    -----

    On a different note, I foresee a great drop in prevalence of head lice among school children now that intimacy is forbidden. Perhaps, that will come to be known as Johnson's greatest contribution to public health.

  13. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
    WTF?

    Did they actually

    pay someone to come up with this 'app' or did they just grab some code off sourceforge , stick a shiney label around it then claim it was the greatest thing ever?

    1. Dr Dan Holdsworth
      FAIL

      Re: Did they actually

      The app is reputedly complete crap, with an incomplete and frankly risable codebase. That rather precludes it coming from Sourceforge, since people tend to at least make a minimal effort there to make the thing work.

      Then we have the fact that both Apple and Google know that there are a lot of truly crap coders out there, and neither wants their product to be seen as less impressive than the other lot's product. So, both Android and iOS on mobiles have very aggressive cpu and power saving systems in place, to the extent that on Apple devices an app practically has to be in the foreground with the screen active to be guaranteed activity.

      Applications made by Google and Apple can run in the background since any product from the OS makers will be very thoroughly tested. So, the Apple/Google covid-19 tracer will work, work well and operate within strict privacy rules since neither really wants to be seen to be touting a privacy-invading infovore product (that's what Google search is for).

      Precisely why the UK government is so dense as not to realise this is anybody's guess, but it will cost them and the rest of us dear until the powers that be finally wise up (which, given who we're talking about, may take quite a while).

      1. John H Woods Silver badge

        Anybody's guess....

        ... my guess is that, if they use the {Goog|App}le solution they won't get all that lovely data they want.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Anybody's guess....

          And won't get the gravy train. :(

      2. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: Did they actually

        I don't know if we should trust that much in Google's and Apple's app store review procedures that much:

        Qatari contact-tracing app 'put 1m people's sensitive data at risk'

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Did they actually

          He was talking about Google and Apples own software, not third party stuff.

          1. Dan 55 Silver badge

            Re: Did they actually

            But third party Covid contract tracing apps still should receive stricter Play/App Store reviews. Google and Apple are supposed to go over them with a fine-tooth comb.

  14. anthonyhegedus

    "that is quite a big change and one of the things we have learned from the pilot is getting people used to that idea is important to do before we add the technological capability."

    Translated into Truth Speak it's "It doesn't fucking work properly and we got it all wrong so we won't be ever releasing the app".

    They were saying yesterday that the NHS contact tracers may phone or text people to isolate. They were also saying that the Isle of Wight app would pop up a message to isolate. People apparently found it disconcerting to be told by an app to isolate, as just a text message.

    SO WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE??? An app tells you is no good. A text tells you, it is OK. What utter bollocks. The real reason the app isn't being released is that it's broken and they won't say.

  15. Drew Scriver

    CloudFront to NHS: read the documentation

    "If you provide content to customers through CloudFront, you can find steps to troubleshoot and help prevent this error by reviewing the CloudFront documentation."

    Full error message:

    03 ERROR

    The request could not be satisfied.

    The Amazon CloudFront distribution is configured to block access from your country. We can't connect to the server for this app or website at this time. There might be too much traffic or a configuration error. Try again later, or contact the app or website owner.

    If you provide content to customers through CloudFront, you can find steps to troubleshoot and help prevent this error by reviewing the CloudFront documentation.

    Generated by cloudfront (CloudFront)

    Request ID: RyCRDUmet6zTp1SlUcxVK9h0YCp4zfjCHkpVKYZlewuh7Yq0glXKHA==

    https://contact-tracing.phe.gov.uk/

  16. Dr. G. Freeman

    So, the Track, Isolate, Test for Suspected Unprecedented Pathogen (TITSUP) system has gone live.

    Means they can open the pubs now, right ? right ?

  17. Barrie Shepherd

    Heard on the radio this morning that the Track & Tracers have been told to use their own PC's for this work i.e. not issued with secure PC's. What can of worms does that open?

    I will be putting the appropriate numbers in my telephone black list which will divert the calls to Lenny.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    I always read Dido Harding...

    ...as Dildo Hardon.

    Am I very wrong?

    Paris... because... c’mon readers, I shouldn’t have to explain...

    1. Teiwaz

      Re: I always read Dido Harding...

      I often do too. So I see where you are going.

      There's no future in it as a possible product though.

      Who'd buy a dildo that would run at a slow speed, be unreliable, and likely leak your personal details.

      1. Spacedinvader
        Paris Hilton

        Re: I always read Dido Harding...

        a dildo that would run at a slow speed, be unreliable, and likely leak your personal details.

        https://www.theregister.co.uk/2017/04/04/intimate_adult_toy_fails_penetration_test/

  19. Stolen Time

    Unmanaged BYOD

    I think everyone would agree that personal information such as contact lists is sensitive information, especially in the very high volumes expected.

    There is precedent for government to handle this, but normally it would involve significant investment in security measures. In particular, the laptops/desktops used by the staff handling the information would be quite heavily locked-down for security reasons. Security would be assured by government accreditation teams, or at the very least would be company managed, to ensure for example that everything is patched up to date. It's not clear what's happening here. It would worry me if the contract tracers are all bringing their own devices. You might argue that it's analogous to contact tracers being asked to supply their own paper and pencils, but surely that's naive, they will have some access to a central database and, equally surely, not all staff will be able to secure their own equipment against determined attackers. The result, will be a high risk that determined attackers will get access to the central database - all the lowlife who install ransomware, blackmail you, send spam or store information to use against you in 30 years time will have a field day. I hope it's not true...

    1. Richard 12 Silver badge

      Re: Unmanaged BYOD

      I'm equally certain that it is true.

      Mostly because the contract tracers say so.

      She says she was hired the day after a "very informal" phone interview where she was asked about her customer service experience and the specification of her laptop - contact tracers are often working from home and some of them are using their own computers.

      They've also been commanded not to speak to the media, presumably because their recruitment and training has and continues to be a debacle.

      1. keithpeter Silver badge

        Re: Unmanaged BYOD

        Does anyone know if a DBS check is required of applicants?

        These people will be handling the address phone number and details of contacts of children (<18) and vulnerable adults.

  20. sanmigueelbeer Silver badge
    Joke

    NHS Test-and-Tag

    I can image the NHS call will go something like this:

    You have received this call because you may be infected. We know who you are. We know exactly where you are now. An armed response unit is on their way to your location now. Get down on your knees, put your hands behind your head and get ready for their arrival. We hope you'll have a pleasant journey. Good-bye.

    1. Spacedinvader
      Black Helicopters

      Re: NHS Test-and-Tag

      Wrong icon :)

  21. anthonyhegedus

    That DIldo woman seemingly ran talktalk rather badly. They wouldn't refund people who were mid-way through contracts and wanted to cancel. At the time, they were the most complained about ISP. Little has changed in 5 years.

  22. cam
    Trollface

    I read her name as Dildo Hoarding.

  23. eionmac

    Efficient T&T sytem workin in a part of UK (in Far North).

    Shetland have an efficient track & trace (HUMAN facing) system working. Have had experience with a previous disease

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