Hundreds of staff at Nissan’s Sunderland car plant have been told to self isolate by the NHS Test and Trace app, as Covid-19 case numbers have spiked in the area.
Roughly 700 workers have been “pinged” by the app, causing disruption to the plant’s production.
Sunderland reported 955 Covid cases per 100,000 people last week, over three times higher than the average in England.
The news comes as businesses face staffing problems on two fronts, with high numbers of workers isolating and companies struggling to hire new staff.
Data published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) today showed 862,000 job vacancies in April to June this year, as sectors faced recruitment difficulties.
Managing director of Iceland Richard Walker today warned of a “pindemic” from the test and trace system. He criticised a “broken” system and warned that staff would be tempted to ignore self-isolation notifications, particularly if they are symptomless and double vaccinated or need to work for financial reasons.
Heathrow was plunged into chaos on Monday after a large number of security workers were told to self-isolate by the app. The shortage in staff resulted in snaking queues for security and check-in at its Terminal 5.
The NHS Test and Trace app system works by sending a “ping” notification to anyone who has potentially had contact with someone who has tested positive with Covid-19, with instructions to self-isolate at home for ten days.
Around 4.6 million people per week could be forced to self-isolate until the rules are dropped, according to estimates by the Adam Smith Institute.
Most covid restrictions will ease from 19 July but the government will keep some measures in place until 16 August, including the Test and Trace app.
The government is set to tweak the app to ensure that fewer people are “pinged” due to contact with people who have tested positive for Covid.
Earlier this week, UK businesses urged the government to bring forward planned changes to Covid self-isolation rules.
In a six-point plan, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) said moving the changes forward would help ease staff shortages and ensure reopening was a “confident not an anxious” process.
It added that further work was needed to create a test and release system and called for continued government funding of workplace testing.