Local public health doctor develops technology to reduce risk of exposure to Covid-19

Dr. Paul Nelson, Public Health Consultant

Dr. Paul Nelson, medical doctor, clinical epidemiologist, and public health consultant, has developed a pioneering technology that will significantly reduce the risk of exposure to Covid-19 in all economic spaces across the City of Edinburgh and beyond.

The groundbreaking innovation, supported by early adopters, Essential Edinburgh and a number of independent retailers, is set to roll out across the city next month, affording shop workers and patrons a safer working environment whilst inspiring confidence and supporting the recovery of economic activity. 

Dr. Paul Nelson comments, “We are creating a Movement which is enabling business owners and residents alike, to take back some control and mitigate the effects that the pandemic has had on their livelihoods. We’ve witnessed a significant amount of initial interest so far and are delighted to be working with Essential Edinburgh to roll this out across Edinburgh and beyond.

“As we all get on board and as the shopkeepers (and other business owners)  become gatekeepers, we all safeguard the economy by identifying symptomatic people. Businesses, harnessing the Dunkirk Spirit, will create a Cordon Sanitaire or Community Screening Programme that is currently lacking and not even possible to be provided in the usual way via public services.”

“Contact tracing is crucial to halt the spread of the virus and currently there is no way of picking up people who have symptoms if they don’t go to their doctor. According to the latest figures from ONS, 70% of cases are not currently referring themselves for testing.”

Roddy Smith, Chief Executive and Director of Essential Edinburgh comments, “Consumer confidence has understandably taken a big hit and businesses are also dealing with the huge impact of lockdown and will be for some time. Empowering both businesses and consumers, FFZ has the potential to provide an additional level of confidence for both. We’re really looking forward to working with Paul and the team to further support our businesses and local community.”

Ian Murray MP, Labour Member of Parliament for Edinburgh South comments, “I am delighted that this idea developed by a local resident, Dr. Paul Nelson is coming to fruition. I appreciate that many businesses will have suffered and most importantly will continue to suffer for the coming weeks or months as we recover from lockdown and this innovation provides a technological route to augment recovery for businesses across Edinburgh and beyond.”

The simple integrated symptom screening membership service designed to enable businesses and customers to reduce the risk of exposure to people with Covid-19 is completely non-invasive and simple to operate.

Shop owners will take the temperature of patrons on entry into their spaces using a clinically approved, contactless thermometer which will then communicate via Bluetooth to a free Fever Free app downloaded by each user. The process uses a progressive web app, which means it doesn’t need to be downloaded from the App store and requires only bare minimum personal data. Once cleared, the person is issued a six hours pass attesting they are fever-free. During this time, the pass ‘holder’ will experience a frictionless outing as they show it to other participating businesses in the area, all while preserving the privacy of all participants

If high temperature is detected, the shopkeeper will encourage the person to go home and the app will prompt them to pass on details to the contact tracing services (if they agree), who will get in touch with the person to be sent a test.

Argyle Place and Roseneath Street area, Edinburgh (EH9) businesses are driving the first Fever Free Zones as the team begins to roll out the technology. An early adopter of FFZ, Karen Kirkness, owner of Meadowlark Yoga on Argyle Place, adds “We need to keep our spaces open if our economy is to survive while maintaining the responsibility to do so as safely as possible. FFZ empowers us to identify symptoms that help our community to help itself in its efforts to stay healthy, engage with the economy, all while supporting the NHS’s efforts to track and trace.”

Dr. Nelson concludes, “It is hoped that the frictionless access to fever-free high streets will inspire confidence and boost economic activity. If fevers are measured at the point-of-access, and if in turn this triggers a consent-initiated contact with NHS Test and Protect, then these measures could dramatically improve NHS Trace and Protect’s ability to eradicate COVID-19.”

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