Friday 16 July 2021 6:52 am

Ping-wrong: NHS app sending self-isolation alerts through walls to neighbours

Questions over the sensitivity of the NHS’ contact tracing app will continue after reports that Brits are being told to self-isolate if their neighbours fall ill.

The bluetooth signal used by the app, which underpins the contact tracing technology, is believed to be so strong it can pick up other phones through walls – and send self-isolation alerts.

The reports come amidst growing concern at the “pingdemic” with more than half a million self-isolation alerts sent last week.

Retailers, NHS staff and manufacturing firms have all spoken this week of staffing chaos as rotas are forced to change with no notice.

Read more: Iceland boss warns of “pingdemic” chaos

A sudden burst of alerts at Heathrow earlier this week resulted in snaking security queues and delays at the border.

The app’s sensitivity – essentially the strength of the bluetooth signal used to find other phones in close contact to the phone used by an individual with a positive case – is under review.

And Government has indicated that by mid-August, those ‘pinged’ by the app will not have to self-isolate if they have had both doses of a vaccine and report negative lateral flow test results.

“We are hearing of anecdotal cases and we do know that it is possible for the signal to travel through walls, although it is weakened,” a source told The Daily Telegraph, which first reported the news.

“The app has been calibrated to try to avoid that happening, but we are reviewing the issue of notifications carefully,” they continued.

Read more: Javid: Covid cases numbers to ‘get a lot worse before they get better’