An update being made to the NHS COVID-19 app today will mean fewer people are ‘pinged’, the Government has announced.
According to the Department for Health and Social Care, the logic used in the app will be changed as the result of a review of the app by the Health Secretary.
Currently, when someone who is asymptomatic tests positive and inputs the test result into the app, the app will look to contact close contacts from the five days before the person tested positive. The update to the app will shorten that five-day window to just two days.
The Government has said that neither the sensitivity of the app or the risk threshold will be impacted by the changes.
The review into the app and subsequent change comes following major disruption by the ‘pingdemic’, in which hundreds of thousands of people across the country have been advised by the app to self-isolate each week. According to official figures, a record 689,313 alerts (or ‘pings’) were sent to users of the app in England and Wales in the 7 days ending 21 July.
Businesses across different industries have faced significant disruption and staff shortages as a result of the number of people isolating. The changes to the app should see the number of people told to isolate significantly decrease and is expected to help alleviate the existing problems with the number of people isolating.
Announcing the change to the app, Health Secretary Sajid Javid said;
“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.
“This update to the app will help ensure that we are striking the right balance.”
The Government is urging people that are told to isolate themselves to continue to do so “in order to stop the spread of the virus and protect their communities”.
The change to the app comes ahead of 16 August, from which date people who are fully vaccinated will no longer have to isolate when identified as a close contact of someone who tests positive for COVID-19.
Coronavirus cases in the UK are continuing to fall, with 21,952 cases reported on Monday. Cases have fallen by 27% in the last 7 day period, though COVID-related deaths are up by 20.2%, with 535 deaths recorded for the same period.