Gemma Collins and Olly Murs led the celebrities encouraging the public to download the NHS COVID-19 app in a new advert.

The former TOWIE star, 39, and the Voice coach, 36, joined the likes of Simon Cowell, Harry Redknapp and Gordon Ramsay to stress the importance of acquiring the platform in videos recorded from their respective homes.

This weekend marks The Big App Download Weekend, where people from England and Wales will be coming together in a bid to help protect others and limit the spread of the virus.  

Important cause: Gemma Collins (L) and Olly Murs (R) led the celebrities encouraging the public to download the NHS COVID-19 app in a new advert

The clip kicked off with a healthcare professional urging the nation to take part in the fight against the pandemic, stating: ‘The new NHS COVID-19 is here to protect you, your loved ones and your local community. 

‘I’m downloading the NHS Covid-19 app today to help control the spread of the virus, and my loved ones.’ 

Olympic champion Victoria Pendleton said: ‘To stop the spread of the virus and keep us all safe’, before football manager Harry added: ‘We want things to be more like they were before.’  

Paralympic athlete Lauren Steadman also took part in the campaign as she declared: ‘Now we all have a leading role to play’, while Pointless host Alexandra Armstrong agreed: ‘Everyone needs to do their bit to make it work.’

‘It’s time for you to play a starring role’: Music mogul Simon Cowell, who is currently recovering from a back injury, made a surprise appearance

To stop the spread of the virus and keep us all safe’: Olympic champion Victoria Pendleton recorded her video in a park

Star-studded: England and Wales will be coming together to limit the spread of the virus on The Big App Download Weekend (Anthony Joshua and Alexandra Armstrong pictured)

‘Now we all have a leading role to play’: Paralympic athlete Lauren Steadman also took part in the campaign

A hit! As of Thursday evening, the app had been downloaded more than one million times by Android users, according to the Google Play Store (Ore Oduba and Nick Knowles pictured) 

In agreement: ‘Get the app on your phone’, broadcaster Chris Evans repeated

Music mogul Simon, who is currently recovering from a back injury, made a surprise appearance as he told viewers: ‘It’s time for you to play a starring role.’

‘We can’t do this alone’, reality star Gemma and former X Factor contestant Olly said alongside celebrity chef Gordon, Anthony Joshua, Kelly Holmes and Nick Knowles.

Meanwhile, Ore Oduba, Scarlett Moffatt, Jason Fox and Chris Evans repeated the phrase: ‘Get the app on your phone.’ 

As of Thursday evening, the app had been downloaded more than one million times by Android users, according to the Google Play Store.

Paramount: The new app comes at a critical time for the UK, with confirmed cases of Covid-19 on the rise daily (Gordon Ramsay and Kelly Holmes pictured)

Plea: Personal trainer Jason Fox also spoke to fans to ensure they had the new feature

Celebs galore: Harry Redknapp (L) and Scarlett Moffatt (R) joined forces for the valuable news

The total figure is likely to be higher when iPhone downloads are included, but Apple does not provide similar figures for app downloads.

Both Scotland and Northern Ireland have already introduced their own individual contact tracing apps, which users can switch to should they visit either country, following the delay of the original NHS software.

NHS Test and Trace, which is responsible for the service, said the app was used to send alerts to users during a trial period on the Isle of Wight and in the London borough of Newham, after people had tested positive.

Contact tracing app Q&A: How does it work and will it make a sick note to take to my boss?

How does it work?

Bluetooth technology will keep a record of which phones spend 15 minutes within 2 metres (6’7′) of one another and then alert people if they have been near someone who later tests positive for Covid-19.  

People’s phones are only recognised by the system if they are running the app themselves – it cannot detect others.

The contacts it keeps track of are all anonymous and phones exchange digital ‘tokens’ with every app-using phone within Bluetooth range.

If one person develops symptoms of the coronavirus or tests positive, they will be able to enter this information into the app.

The phone will then send out a notification to all the devices they have exchanged tokens with during the infection window, to make people aware they may have been exposed to COVID-19.

Each phone keeps an individual log of the Bluetooth profiles someone has come close to. These will then be linked anonymously to people’s NHS apps and alerts can be pushed through that even after the person is out of bluetooth range.

Will the app produce me a sick note? 

The app will not generate a sick note itself. 

But if you need one for an employer you can inform the NHS’s online 111 service that you have been told to self-isolate by the app and it will generate one. 

Will the government know if it tells me to self-isolate but I don’t?

No, the system relies on the goodwill of users to comply with the app’s request to self-isolate.

App users are entirely anonymous and the app cannot force them to self isolate or identify them if they are failing to do so. 

Any personal data is anonymous and will not be sent to the government so police can check if the app’s instructions are being followed. 

The app can only react to data that people put into it, and it will only ever offer guidance. If a user reports that they have symptoms of coronavirus – a new continuous cough, a fever, or a changed sense of smell or taste, they will be urged to self-isolate for 10 days from the start of the symptoms and to get tested.  

The latest version was piloted among residents of both areas as well as NHS volunteers from mid-August, after the first app was marred by technical issues and eventually scrapped.

It comes at a critical time for the UK, with confirmed cases of Covid-19 on the rise daily.

Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said the app’s launch came at a ‘tipping point in our efforts to control the spread of this virus’.

The politician told BBC Breakfast that the more people who download the new coronavirus app across England and Wales ‘the better’, adding it was good ‘for your community’.

‘The more people who download this app, the more effective it will be,’ the MP, 41, said.

As the software is voluntary, its success will also depend heavily on how many people choose to download and use it.

The new app requires Apple users to be running iOS 13.5, which was rolled out in May and works on the iPhone 6s, released in 2015, or newer handsets, while Android users need to be running at least Android version 6.0, which was also first released in 2015.

The Government said that anyone unable to use the app should continue to use traditional contact tracing services provided by NHS Test and Trace or, NHS Wales Test, Trace, Protect.

The app is powered by an Apple and Google-developed system, using Bluetooth to keep an anonymous log of people a user has been close to.

It does this by exchanging randomised keys while the Bluetooth signal strength measures proximity.

If someone falls ill, they can tell the app, which will then ping their keys to a central server and in turn send them off to all app users in search of a match.

Should the system determine a person as a close contact, they will be automatically be sent a notification and issued with further guidance.

A QR code scanning feature is available, allowing people to check in to venues they visit and easily share their contact details for human tracing efforts.

Some 160,000 businesses have already downloaded QR codes for use in their facilities.

Baroness Dido Harding, executive chairwoman of England’s NHS Test and Trace Programme, said: ‘We want to make it as easy as possible for everyone to engage with England’s NHS Test and Trace service.

‘The NHS Covid-19 app enables the majority of people with a smartphone to find out if they are at risk of having caught the virus and need to self isolate, order a test if they have symptoms, and access the right guidance and advice.

‘The features of this app, including QR code check-in at venues, work alongside our traditional contact tracing service and will help us to reach more people quickly in their communities to prevent further spread of the virus.

‘This is a welcome step in protecting those around us.’

The UK’s major network operators, including Vodafone, Three, EE and O2, giffgaff, Tesco Mobile, Sky Mobile and Virgin Mobile have agreed to ‘zero-rate’ data charges incurred by all in-app activity, meaning they will not be charged for using it. 

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