When UK ministers announced that they were ditching efforts to develop a bespoke contact-tracing app to help contain the spread of coronavirus, it marked the end of a months-long attempt to find a novel solution to a universal problem.
Countries across the world have tried to develop tailored smartphone apps that will alert people when they have come into contact with someone infected with the virus, but a number have abandoned these efforts after concluding they must use technology provided by Apple and Google.
The UK government has now decided to follow suit and develop an app using Apple and Google software. But health secretary Matt Hancock refused to say on Thursday when it would be launched. That in turn raised questions about whether people in England can be kept safe as they emerge from the country’s three-month lockdown.
Mr Hancock, who had hoped to launch the app in May,