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UK gov gets NHS Covid-19 app tweaked to scale back 'Pingdemic'

by Mark Tyson on 3 August 2021, 11:11

Tags: UK Government

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The UK government has implemented a change in how the NHS Covid-19 app works. In a press release on Monday, the government said that the update will mean fewer contacts will have to isolate. Importantly, it insists that the 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". The change in the app's 'logic' comes as disruption caused to individuals and businesses - due to 'pinged' folk staying at home and isolating - has been judged to be too high, and given rise to a phenomenon widely referred to as the 'Pingdemic'.

Credit is given to the app for playing a "crucial role in breaking chains of transmission, preventing hospitalisations and saving lives". It is claimed that during the first three weeks of July, as cases rose exponentially in the UK, the app averted approx 50,000 Covid-19 cases (assuming 60 per cent compliance with isolation instructions). Furthermore, the government scientific advisors reckon that this prevented 1,600 hospitalisations – for those unfortunates who get into serious difficulty with breathing etc.

The above results sound good, and the app useful – so why is the government changing things now? As the BBC reports, "almost 700,000 alerts were sent by the app to users in England and Wales for the week to July 21, a record since it was launched, which has caused staffing issues in many industries". So, the government hopes that reducing the positive test contact time element of the app's logic from 5 to 2 days will scale-back the self-isolation impacts on businesses. It is also considering making key workers in industries like food distribution exempt from having to self-isolate when pinged – but instead taking daily tests to make sure they aren't a risk to colleagues.

Recently installed Health and Social Care Secretary, Sajid Javid said about the update "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." Javid restated how important it is for those pinged to follow the app's instructions to self-isolate, a legal obligation, to reduce the spread of the virus.

Another change, applied from 16th August, will help reduce Pingdemic impacts on the UK. From that date, "fully vaccinated contacts in England will be exempt from isolation and instead will be advised to take a PCR test," says the UK gov blog. The UK public are urged to continue to use the NHS branded Covid-19 app (Android, iOS). It is probably worthwhile updating it to the latest version too (last update was on 28th July).

An official document detailing the UK's Covid-19 app risk-scoring algorithm is available here.



HEXUS Forums :: 13 Comments

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The shelves are empty due to lack of HGV drivers, which primarily has been caused by us leaving the EU not the pandemic. Show me one other country in Europe with empty supermarket shelves. The supermarkets and the haulers are saying this, stop pushing the rubbish that its just caused by Covid (which has been chronically mishandled too but hey what else is new).
Darkedge
The shelves are empty due to lack of HGV drivers, which primarily has been caused by us leaving the EU not the pandemic. Show me one other country in Europe with empty supermarket shelves. The supermarkets and the haulers are saying this, stop pushing the rubbish that its just caused by Covid (which has been chronically mishandled too but hey what else is new).

Yes, but don't let facts like that get in the way of a good headline. Besides any mention of the ‘B’ word around here usually gets the thread locked.
There's a really, REALLY Simple fix for the app… un-install it. Get on with your life and realise that your life is free if you stay away from MSM.
excalibur1814
There's a really, REALLY Simple fix for the app… un-install it. Get on with your life and realise that your life is free if you stay away from MSM.

It's not that simple though - I have had jobs where you have to proof either a negative test or take a test 24 hours before with a negative test before they will allow you into the workplace.

I know plenty of HGV drivers. They are saying that many issues are down to the fact they won't stay overnight or can't just stay overnight anymore easily as well as a lack of new drivers.

Add the 2 in and you have issues that mean people just do their 40 or whatever hours and no more or no less for an easy life
Darkedge
The shelves are empty due to lack of HGV drivers, which primarily has been caused by us leaving the EU not the pandemic. Show me one other country in Europe with empty supermarket shelves. The supermarkets and the haulers are saying this, stop pushing the rubbish that its just caused by Covid (which has been chronically mishandled too but hey what else is new).

I know a few HGV drivers with long covid and unable to work so there is some effect. A good deal of the building material shortage is due to import and customs fiasco as well as problems with new licensing approvals and trouble getting the relevant paperwork in place. If you need new radiators buy them now. They're going to be in short supply come the end of the year if the gov don't do something about the re-testing the industry is now required to get done (without enough testing capacity to actually achieve it, even assuming they could all afford to pay for it)