More than half a million ‘pinged’ to self-isolate by NHS Covid app

The vast numbers of people having to self-isolate is leading to worker shortages in some sectors

More than half a million people ‘pinged’ to self-isolate by NHS Covid app (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)

More than 500,000 people received alerts from the NHS Covid app in the first week of July telling them they’d been in contact with someone who tested positive for the virus.

Last week’s total is the most contact alerts over a seven day period since figures started being published in January.

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At a glance: 5 key points

– From 30 June to 7 July, 530,126 alerts were sent out from the NHS app in England and Wales

– This is up 46 per cent on the previous week

– An alert from the app means you have come into close contact with someone who has later tested positive for Covid and you should self-isolate

– There have been widespread reports of worker shortages across many sectors as so many people are currently under instruction to self-isolate

– Experts are concerned that this will likely get worse once restrictions are lifted on Monday, and could have dire consequences for healthcare in particular

What’s been said?

At Prime Minister’s Questions on 7 July, Labour leader Keir Starmer warned that large numbers of people could soon be asked to self-isolate, with major consequences for businesses.

He said: “How many people will be asked to self-isolate if there are 100,000 cases a day?”

“Now he’s ignoring the next big problem that’s heading down the track and going to affect millions of people who are going to have to self-isolate.

“It won’t feel like freedom day for those who have to self-isolate, when they have to cancel their holidays, when they can’t go to the pub, or even to their kid’s sports day. And it won’t feel like freedom day to the businesses that are already warning of carnage because of the loss of staff and customers”

In response, Boris Johnson said: “Of course we’re going to continue with the programme of self-isolation for as long as that is necessary. I thank all those who are doing it. But of course what we’re also doing is moving to a system of testing rather than self-isolation. And we can do that because of the success of the vaccination programme.”