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How many people are using the NHS Covid app? Increase in pings as Christmas party-goers urged to check in at venues

Users checked in just over 141,000 times in the week ending 1 December, compared to a peak of 12.6 million in July.

Health bosses have urged Christmas revellers in England to check into bars and restaurants using the NHS app amid an uptick in venue alerts and pings.

The app, which is used primarily for Covid-contact tracing purposes, has seen a collapse in the number of venue check-ins since summer, when it was dropped as a mandatory restriction.

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Users checked in just over 141,000 times in the week ending 1 December, compared to a peak of 12.6 million in July.

But the app is still ‘pinging’ tens of thousands of people each week, with the latest week seeing a rise in both individual contact tracing alerts and pings related to venues where someone has tested positive.

Now with Christmas parties given approval by the Government, health bosses are encouraging people to keep using the app.

How many people are using the NHS Covid app?

The most recent available figures from the NHS Covid app show 141,061 check-ins were registered from 25 November to 1 December.

While the  number of check-ins at venues has plummeted by99% in the last six months, the most recent week’s data bucks the trend with a 2% rise.

The last week also saw an uptick in venue alerts to notify app users they had been somewhere where a customer later tested positive – 1,629 venues triggered alerts in the week to 1 December, up from 1,543 in the week before.

Between 26 November and 2 December last year, there were more than 1.8 million check-ins at venues across England - 13 times greater than this year.

However, the number of contact tracing alerts in the latest week was six times higher than last year – 217,990 compared to 35,687.

This week’s number was a 7% increase from the week ending 18 November.

It is not known how many people still use or have the app but the most recent week’s data shows there were 114,000 new downloads, with nearly 30 million cumulative downloads to date.

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Nearly 8.4 million contact tracing alerts have been sent since the app launched last September.

Tens of thousands of people are still recording positive test results directly as a result of being notified by the app to test.

In the most recent week nearly 77,000 positive tests were linked to the app - another rising figure. The number of positive tests linked to the app is now at a 15 week high.

Since September 2020 nearly 2.7 million positive cases have been linked to the app.

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‘The pandemic isn’t over’

Dr Layla McCay, director of policy at the NHS Confederation, said in the run up to Christmas everyone needs to keep using the app.

Dr McCay said: “It’s really important that everyone continues to support the test and trace programme, by getting tested, by supplying details of close contacts to tracers, and by using the NHS app and checking in at those venues as required.

“We know people may be concerned about being ‘pinged’ and having to self-isolate especially in the run up to Christmas. But using the app gives us valuable information about when we should take a PCR test as we seek to protect each other this Christmas.

“As long as you’re vaccinated, you won’t have to isolate unless you have symptoms or are told you were exposed to Omicron – or of course if you get a positive Covid test result.

“With the move to Plan B of the Government’s winter plan and the emergence of the new Omicron variant, we know this pandemic is not yet over and we all have a role to play in protecting each other.”

‘Continue using the app’

UK Health Security said the app is regularly adapted in line with the latest public health advice to ensure that it is as responsive, efficient and effective as possible.

A spokesperson said: "The NHS Covid-19 App has prevented thousands of cases and is a vital tool to help protect against the spread of Covid-19 by alerting people when they may have been in contact with a confirmed case.

“The app is an essential part of the pandemic response, helping to protect your loved ones and reducing the spread of coronavirus.

“We encourage everyone to continue using it as another tool to help keep us all safe.”

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