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The Government Doesn't Know How Many People Have Deleted Covid-19 App As "Pingdemic" Continues

The Government Doesn't Know How Many People Have Deleted Covid-19 App As 'Pingdemic' Continues
3 min read

The government has admitted it does not have a record of how many people have deleted the NHS Covid-19 app as more than 500,000 people are self-isolating in the so-called "pingdemic".

The NHS app rolled out last September was billed by ministers at the time as being an important part of the test and trace initiative, as its Bluetooth function can pick up a person's contact with someone who has tested positive for the virus. It sets out how many days left a person has to isolate for, and is also used to check into venues using its QR code function.

However with thousands of people stuck at home and unable to work this week, there is now believed to be a huge surge of people deleting the app so they don't get "pinged" and forced into self-isolation, even if they have tested negative. Others are chosing not to delete the app entirely but have turned off the bluetooth "contact tracing" function so they cannot be tracked down.

The situation is set to continue for at least four weeks: August 16 children and double-jabbed adults will no longer need to isolate in England after coming into contact with a Covid sufferer. There have been requests for business, so far unheeded, for the date to be brought forward.

The Prime Minister's official spokesperson said they had information on how many downloads there have been but was unable to say about how many people have stopped using it, potentially having a significant impact on its effectiveness. 

Asked twice for the numbers of people who have abandoned the app, he said: "The stats we have are on the number of people that downloaded the app."

"Around of a third of those self isolating cases went on to develop symptoms so the app is doing what it is designed to do - find close contacts and advise them to isolate."

He added that the "app is a really important tool" and would encourage people to keep using it, and said he expects government staff to keep on the bluetooth tracing function switched on. 

Officially 26 million people have downloaded the app since September, with 342,483 downloading it between July 1 and July 7.

Changes to "dim" its bluetoooth reach are not going ahead, he confirmed, after concerns arose that people had been "pinged" through the walls of flats, and classroom walls.

The country is now on the brink of an employment crisis as cases of the virus continue to rise and people are ordered to self-isolate at home. Transport networks and supermarkets such as Iceland are already reporting the huge impact absent staff is having on the proper running of their businesses.

Some health workers have been given permission to return to work by the government if they are double jabbed and test positive for the illness after being "pinged".

The Prime Minister's spokesperson said a large proportion of those isolating are school children and the summer holidays will bring a natural break in transmission. 

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