Bluetooth technology on the new NHS Covid-19 contact-tracing app can now be used to track time and distance between smartphone devices in England and Wales.

Users will also be able to check their symptoms and book a free test through the app, which also includes an isolation countdown timer to remind people to quarantine.

The app offers a QR code for use in bars, restaurants and other venues to aid NHS Test and Trace in contacting customers with public health advice should there be a Covid-19 outbreak.

Once a QR code is scanned, information will remain on a user’s phone for 21 days, but users will have the option to delete venues from their app.Some 160,000 business have downloaded the NHS Test and Trace QR code during the first two weeks in September since it was made available.

Matt Hancock, Health Secretary, said: “With infection rates rising we must use every tool at our disposal to prevent transmission, including the latest technology. We’ve worked extensively with tech companies, international partners, plus privacy and medical experts – and learned from the trials to develop a secure simple-to-use app, and will help keep our country safe.”

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the new app marks “an important step forward in the UK’s fight against this invisible killer”.

Dido Harding, Executive Chair of NHS Test and Trace, said that they 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.”

Dido Harding, Executive Chair of NHS Test and Trace

The launch follows months of setbacks, including criticism from privacy experts and a u-turn on the original operating model.