Record 618,903 people ‘pinged’ by NHS Covid-19 tracing app in a week

·2-min read
NHS Covid-19 tracing app (PA)
NHS Covid-19 tracing app (PA)

More than 600,000 people were told to self-isolate last week after being ‘pinged’ by the NHSCovid-19 tracing app, official figures show.

A record 618,903 alerts were sent to users of the app in England and Wales in the week to July 14, telling them they had been in close contact with someone who had tested positive for coronavirus.

This is up more than 15% on the previous week when 530,126 people were pinged and marks the highest seven-day total since data was first published in January.

Boris Johnson is struggling to contain the pingdemic which has started to take hold on industries such as hospitality and food supply.

Shoppers have been urged not to panic amid all-too-familiar scenes of empty supermarket shelves amid staff shortages.

Stores including Tesco Waitrose and Sainsbury’s said staff and delivery drivers are being forced to self isolate, which has led to challenges in-store.

BP has also had to close some of its petrol stations due to supply issues while Pret a Manger has had to shut 17 branches.

Amid mounting chaos, the government is expected to publish a narrow list of sectors whose workers will be exempt from isolation rules on Thursday.

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng revealed the news but said he would not pre-empt the list when asked if the food industry would be included.

It comes contrary to earlier murmurs from No 10 to suggest no such list would be granted.

Downing Street had also said that businesses would need to apply to government departments.

But Mr Kwarteng told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I don’t think it’s a question of applying for this.”

People have also been urged not to delete the NHS Test and Trace app despite growing concern at the effect on food supplies and the wider economy.

So far, an estimated 1.7 million staff members have been told to self isolate by the NHS Covid app or Test and Trace operators.

And research by YouGov revealed this week that one in ten people had deleted the NHS app while 31 per cent had never installed it.

Mr Kwarteng told Sky News: “These rules are in place to protect everybody and I think the whole point about self-isolation is that we are protecting wider society and I think that people should be following the rules.”

The British Retail Consortium has urged ministers to “act fast” to allow fully-vaccinated workers, or those who test negative, to be exempt from isolation after a ping.

Ministers will introduce a wider relaxation for all double-jabbed individuals but that will not come until August 16 - a month after most coronavirus laws ended.

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