The NHS Covid-19 App has been updated in a bid to reduce the number of people being ‘pinged’.
The app currently sends isolation notices to close contacts of people five days prior to them testing positive, but based on public health advice this is set to be updated to two days prior to a positive test.
It means those getting pinged by the app will only have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive within the last two days. The government is hoping this will reduce the number of people being told to isolate by the app.
In the week from 15 July – 21 July more than 600,000 people were told to self-isolate by the app.
The update doesn’t affect the sensitivity of the app, which still picks up close contacts who were within two metres distance for longer than 15 minutes.
Health secretary Sajid Javid said: “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.
“It’s so important that people isolate when asked to do so in order to stop the spread of the virus and protect their communities.”
Independent analysis from Oxford University suggests the app prevented up to 2,000 cases of Covid-19 per day in the first three weeks of July – or 50,000 cases in total – based on 60% compliance with isolation instructions.
About 40% of those who can use the app are regularly using it, with about 50% of all reported tests being inputted using the tool.
Official figures show 678,102 people were told to self-isolate by the NHS Covid-19 app in the week from 15 July- 21 July, taking the total number of isolation alerts to more than four million since the app was launched.
More than 145,000 positive tests were entered into the app in the same timeframe, alongside 266,000 negative tests.
The government is urging people to continue using the app. It is the fastest way for people to know if they’ve been at risk and users will only be advised to isolate if they’ve come into close contact with someone who has tested positive, according to a statement from the Department of Health and Social Care.
From August 16 fully vaccinated contacts in England will be except from isolation and will instead be advised to take a PCR test.
The government recently announced 16 sectors that can except key workers from quarantine if they are pinged by the NHS Covid-19 app, in favour of carrying our daily testing.