A PROPOSAL for the Isle of Wight to pilot an app for contact tracing of coronavirus has been welcomed by Island MP Bob Seely — but has also been met with caution.

The idea is that the Island could be a test-and trace area, leading the way for other areas to implement the procedure.

Plans drawn up by the NHS suggest launching a new app here, alongside human tracing teams and on-demand swab testing.

It could be launched mid-May, while still under lockdown.

The app would allow people to report symptoms and send out alerts to people they have been in contact with. It would then direct people to where they can get swab-tested.

Mr Seely said: "I welcome the proposal, although clearly we are waiting for full details and confirmation of go-ahead.

Read more: Bob Seely advocates mass testing trials on Isle of Wight

“In conversations with Matt Hancock and health ministers recently and over the past few years, I have made the case for the Island piloting schemes, especially in ideas around telemedicine and the use of drones — to drive improvements in patient care.

Read more: Drones could fly to mainland

“There is no question of ‘just’ lifting the lockdown. However, the elements for planning lockdown easing, as well as long-term Covid-19 suppression, can be put together on the Island prior to rolling out nationally.

“The lockdown is not a trade-off between lives versus the economy — it is between saving life now versus saving life later.

"We need to save lives now, and this pilot scheme will make Islanders safer, but we also need to preserve life in future.

"The reality is that cancers are at risk of going undetected and heart conditions untreated.

"Failed business and bankruptcies will lead to stress and possibly a rise in suicides. Young people are being denied education and life chances are being undermined.

"We need to find a way out of the current situation. We need to start planning. The government is doing the right thing and I believe that this pilot will help make the Island as well as the UK safer.

“I look forward to working with the Island’s council and NHS, and the government, to make this pilot scheme, if it goes ahead, a success in protecting the NHS and saving life.”

Vix Lowthion, Isle of Wight Green Party spokesperson, said: "It is good news that access to testing for coronavirus for those in care homes and over 65 years old has been increased.

"But the news that the Isle of Wight is to be a full-scale coronavirus test and trace area must be treated with caution.

Read more: Isle of Wight people are not 'guinea pigs'

"We are informed that 50 per cent of us — more than 50,000 Islanders — will be required to voluntarily download and use an app on our smartphone which will monitor its use for contract tracing.

"The government, our MP and our council leader need to be clear with Islanders on the consequences of the use of this app."

She questioned whether the app could use GPS data or hold personal medical records about people.

She added: "The Isle of Wight is a warm and thriving community. We are not the government's lab rats."

Island Labour's Richard Quigley said: "I see no problem with supporting the introduction of a tracing app, and if it means more testing available for Islanders, particularly those in the neglected care home sector, then that would also be something we should all support.

"Given the government's serial failures on delivering PPE and testing, however, we would need to be clear there is no question of using the Island as a testbed for an early raising of the lockdown.

"It's important that in future our MP and council consult widely and publicly before offering us up to government."