Covid-19 app updated to cut number of people isolating as ‘pingdemic’ continues

The NHS Covid-19 app is being updated so fewer contacts will be instructed to isolate after an increase in people being pinged since lockdown restrictions ended.

Almost 700,000 alerts were sent by the app to users in England and Wales for the week to July 21, a record since it was launched, which has caused staffing issues across multiple industries.

Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said the “logic” behind the app was being tweaked, although the sensitivity and risk threshold would remain unchanged.

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Instead of checking contacts for five days before a positive test, the app will only go back two days.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said this will reduce contacts from when an asymptomatic person was unlikely to be at the peak of infectiousness, and so cut down the overall number of pings.

Businesses have been plunged into chaos after the numbers told to self-isolate by the NHS coronavirus app soared in recent weeks.

The move comes as supermarkets have said that they may have to close early or shut altogether if the number of self-isolating employees continues to rise.

Marks and Spencer claimed the number of workers “pinged” by the Test and Trace app was increasing exponentially and could lead to shorter opening hours.

As a result, Iceland is set to recruit an extra 2000 workers as it grapples with staff shortages caused by the pingdemic, with Big 4 grocer Tesco and M&S offering a sign-on bonus in a bid to tackle the wider HGV driver shortage crisis.

“We want to reduce the disruption that self-isolation can cause for people and businesses while ensuring we’re protecting those most at risk from this virus,” Javid said.

“This update to the app will help ensure that we are striking the right balance.

“It’s so important that people isolate when asked to do so in order to stop the spread of the virus and protect their communities.”

with PA Wires

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