NHS COVID-19 app updated to notify fewer contacts to isolate
The public is being urged to continue to use the NHS COVID-19 App as changes made from Monday will result in fewer contacts being advised to self-isolate following a close contact with a positive case.
Previously the app notified those who had been in close contact with a positive case within the five days prior to that test being taken.
Last month the managing director of Deeside based Iceland said the company had been put in the “unprecedented position” of being forced to close some stores because there aren’t enough people to staff them.
Richard Walker said Iceland workers have been falling “victim to the so-called pingdemic” and a large number of staff have received a notification from the NHS Test and Trace app and told that they must self-isolate.
Over 700,000 people were sent self-isolation alerts in England and Wales in the last week.
As part of a review into the app, the ‘logic’ which underpins how close contacts are notified has now been updated.
The change will mean fewer contacts that took place when the positive case was unlikely to be at the peak of their infectiousness are advised to self-isolate, reducing the overall number of notifications sent by the app.
This update does not impact the sensitivity of the app, or change the risk threshold, and will result in the same number of high-risk contacts being advised to self-isolate.
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.
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.
This update comes as new analysis shows the NHS COVID-19 App continues to play a crucial role in breaking chains of transmission, preventing hospitalisations and saving lives.
New analysis from leading scientists shows that in the first 3 weeks of July, as cases were exponentially rising, the app averted up to 2,000 cases per day, and over 50,000 cases of COVID-19 including chains of transmission assuming 60% compliance with instructions to self-isolate. This is estimated to have prevented 1,600 hospitalisations.
It also shows the app reduces the spread of COVID-19 by around 4.3% each week, and for every 200-250 tests entered and shared in the app one person is prevented from being hospitalised from the virus.
Usage remains high, with around 40% of the eligible population regularly using the app and around 50% of all reported tests being inputted.
The government is urging the public to continue using the NHS COVID-19 App. Around one in three people experience this virus without symptoms and, even if you are fully vaccinated, it is possible that you could be unwittingly carrying and spreading the virus, creating a chain of transmission that could have someone vulnerable to the virus at the end of it.
Dr Jenny Harries, CEO of UK Health Security Agency, said:
The NHS COVID-19 App is a really practical example of how technology can be used to fight the biggest challenges we face in protecting and improving our health.
The app is the simplest, easiest, and fastest way to find out whether you have been exposed to the virus, and it has saved thousands of lives over the course of this pandemic.
I strongly encourage everyone, even those fully vaccinated, to continue using the app. It is a lifesaving tool that helps us to stay safe and to protect those closest to us as we return to a more familiar way of life.
The app remains the fastest way to know if you have been at risk, and app users will only be advised to isolate if they have come into close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.
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