Record 520,000 people in England pinged by NHS Covid app in a week

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A total of 520,194 alerts were sent to users of the NHS Covid-19 app in England in the week to 7 July, new figures show.

When someone gets pinged by the app, it is to tell them that they’ve come into close contact with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus and should therefore isolate.

The figures published on Thursday are up from 356,677 on the previous week. It is the highest weekly figure since data was first published in January.

It came as data showed that the number of people who tested positive for the disease in a week reached a high not seen since January.

A total of 194,005 people tested positive for Covid-19 in England at least once in the week to 7 July, according to Test and Trace data.

It is the highest number since the week to 27 January.

Earlier on Thursday Robert Jenrick, the communities and local government minister, said he was concerned about how the app is working.

He told LBC radio: "It is important that we have the app, that we take it seriously, that when we do get those messages we act accordingly. But we are going to give further thought to how we can ensure it is a proportionate response.

"We have indicated that for those who have been double vaccinated there are opportunities to take a more proportionate approach.

"We are concerned about absences as a result of being pinged, for example. That is one of the reasons why we do need to move to a more proportionate approach."

In a separate interview, Mr Jenrick denied the government's Covid rules have become a "total shambles" as ministers prepare to end lockdown restrictions in England.

The latest guidance says shoppers will still be expected to wear face masks and table service should continue in pubs and bars, even though it will no longer be a statutory requirement from Monday.

The move has been widely criticised by both trade unions and employers, with ministers accused of sending out "mixed messages" while giving businesses little time to prepare for the new regime.

But Mr Jenrick insisted that as the vaccine rollout continues it is right to allow individuals and businesses to make their own judgments about what precautions to take.

Asked on ITV's Good Morning Britain if the policy has become a "total shambles", he replied: "No, I don't accept that.

"As a result of the vaccine rollout we are able to move into a new phase and that's one where we all exercise our own personal judgment.

"But also businesses and those people who are operating public transport networks, for example, will also make judgments about what is right for their settings. I think that is a sensible way forward."

The TUC has said the government's guidance is a "recipe for chaos and rising infections", while the shop workers union Usdaw said it is a "real mess" offering no assurances for staff or customers.

Additional reporting by Press Association

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