Fewer close contacts of Covid cases will be told to self-isolate after an update to the NHS app today.
The NHS Covid 19 app’s ‘logic’ will be updated today (2 August) in a bid to encourage the public to continue using the app, the Department of Health has announced.
Individuals will be notified if they have been in contact with someone in the two days prior to them testing positive for the virus.
The app currently identifies close contacts in the five days before a positive test for asymptomatic patients with officials saying the change is based on public health advice.
News that there will be a reduction in pings from the app will be welcomed by sectors such as hospitality, that have suffered staff shortages in recent weeks thanks to isolating employees.
A record 689,313 app notifications were sent in England and Wales in the week up to 21 July, amid calls from industry bosses for a ‘test and release’ scheme to allow employees to return to work quicker.
The same number of high-risk contacts will be advised to self-isolate, the Department of Health 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,” health and social care secretary, Sajid Javid said.
He added: “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.”
Some 40 per cent of the population regularly use the app and around half of all reported tests are logged, according to Government statistics – despite reports of bosses encouraging staff to delete the app.
Double jabbed contacts will no longer have to self-isolate from 16 August, provided they receive a negative PCR test.
Of the tweaks, Kate Nicholls, CEO of UKHospitality said: “With our research showing more than 250,000 hospitality workers being affected by ‘pings’ at any given point by the NHS Covid App, this intervention from Government is absolutely necessary to prevent a complete loss of summer trading for the hospitality sector following prolonged periods of severely disrupted trading.
“This will help to alleviate some of the pressure currently being experienced by hard-hit businesses, but is not a silver bullet.