NHS Covid app could be changed as millions risk being ‘pinged’ into isolation

Millions of Brits face being pinged by the NHS Covid-19 app (Image: Getty Images)

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Changes could be made to the NHS app over fears it will “ping” millions of Brits into isolation before August 16, Rishi Sunak has hinted.

The Chancellor said Health Secretary Sajid Javid will be looking at “a more proportionate and balanced approach” amid warnings of a tide of absences and ruined holidays.

Mr Javid has already announced double-jabbed Brits will no longer have to self-isolate from August 16 if they come into contact with a positive case.

But by his own admission, there could be 100,000 new Covid cases a day by then.

Almost three people on average are “pinged” by the app for every one person who tests positive. That suggests more than 2million people a week could be told to isolate before August 16 kicks in.

Speaking today, Mr Sunak appeared to suggest more changes could be coming down the track.

He told BBC Breakfast: “I recognise people’s frustrations with this.

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“What I can tell you is having spoken to the Health Secretary about it he’s also aware of this.

“We have two different systems for self-isolation – we have the NHS test and trace system where you get called and we also have the app.

“And I think most people’s concerns rest with the app and that does account for the majority of the self-isolation contact cases.

“But what I can tell you is the Health Secretary is aware of the frustrations around this, he’s looking at the difference between those two systems, and seeing what might be a more proportionate and balanced approach to this.”

Unlike the Test and Trace system, the NHS Covid app is able to detect contacts between two people who do not know each other, such as on a bus or train.

However, all its data is anonymised and unlike a phone call from Test and Trace, its ‘pings’ are not a legally-enforceable order to isolate.

The Chancellor said Health Secretary Sajid Javid will be looking at “a more proportionate and balanced approach”
(Image: REUTERS)

Most of England's remaining lockdown restrictions will end if the Government proceeds with Step 4 on July 19 – meaning cases are expected to soar.

But changes to self-isolation rules will not come in for another four weeks.

That will mean millions of Brits could be exposed to Covid, and still have to follow isolation rules even if they are double-jabbed.

After August 16, fully-vaccinated individuals and under-18s will no longer be told to stay at home if they have come into contact with a coronavirus case.

But they will instead be advised to take a test, and people with confirmed cases of Covid-19 will still be told to self-isolate.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps is expected to outline similar measures for foreign travel later this morning.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer warned on Wednesday that the plans to end restrictions could lead to a "summer of chaos and confusion".

He told Prime Minister Boris Johnson that businesses fear "carnage" with the loss of staff to isolation, and people having to cancel social plans.

Some people have suggested they have deleted the app to avoid isolation requests for contacts with Covid-19 infections.

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