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Concerns have been raised about the number of people self-isolating after being “pinged” by the NHS Covid app.

More than 600,000 people in England and Wales received an alert in the week to 14 July.

Why are so many people being ‘pinged’?

Which jobs are affected?

Many businesses have staff and supply issues:

  • A shortage of lorry drivers has led to delays supplying goods
  • Iceland said 1,000 staff are self-isolating
  • BP has closed a “handful” of petrol stations
  • Food distribution company Bidfood is asking “pinged” workers to return after taking a negative test
  • Some council bin collections have been affected
  • Dorset Police warn of call waiting times increasing
  • The British Meat Processors Association said 10% of some companies’ workers have been “pinged”

Do I have to self-isolate if I’m pinged?

If you spend enough time close to another person using it, you will receive a “ping” alert if they test positive for Covid. You need to be 2m (6ft) from them for 15 minutes to trigger a message.

Business minister Paul Scully said people who are “pinged” can make an “informed decision” about whether to isolate. But Downing Street later insisted it is “crucial” to self-isolate when sent an alert.

Chart showing the steep increase in app alerts

What else does Test and Trace do?

When people test positive for coronavirus, they are asked to provide details of close contacts.

These include:

  • people they’ve spent at least 15 minutes with, at a distance of less than 2m (6ft)
  • sexual partners, people they live with or have had face-to-face conversations with, at a distance of less than 1m (3ft)

These contacts are then approached by text, email or phone

Other people in your household don’t have to self-isolate unless you or they develop symptoms.

Woman taking Covid swabimage copyrightGetty Images

How are the rules changing in England?

From 16 August, people who’ve had both jabs in England will no longer have to self-isolate after close contact with someone who tests positive.

From the same date, under-18s also won’t have to isolate after contact with a positive case – to prevent entire classes or year groups having to self-isolate.

If contacted by NHS Test and Trace they will be advised to take one PCR test as soon as possible. As long as that is negative, and they don’t develop symptoms, they won’t need to take further action.

Primary school classimage copyrightGetty Images

Similar changes are due in Scotland on 9 August. Wales will do the same on 7 August, although the rule for under-18s is not yet confirmed. Ministers in Northern Ireland are expected to discuss changes on 12 August.

Anyone who tests positive or develops symptoms will still need to self-isolate, regardless of vaccination status or age.

What are the rules around the UK?

Each UK nation has its own contact-tracing service, but the rules are similar:

Will I be paid if I’m told I have to self-isolate?

You may also be entitled to Statutory Sick Pay, which is worth £96.35 a week, or more if your employer has a sick pay scheme.

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Source: BBC

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