People Told To Self-Isolate By Test & Trace App Has Jumped By Tens Of Thousands Per Week
The number of people who were contacted by the NHS Covid-19 app and told to self-isolate has risen sharply (Alamy)
The number of people identified as close contacts of someone who tested positive for coronavirus by the government’s Test and Trace app jumped from less than 10,000 per week, to more than 200,000 in a month.
Figures from the NHS reveal the sharp increase in those told to self-isolate by the official Test & Trace app as cases of the delta variant of Covid-19 spread through the UK.
It comes amid suggestions people are deleting the app, or disabling the contact tracing element of it in order to avoid being forced into quarantine at home for 10 days.
At Prime Minister’s Questions this lunchtime Boris Johnson was asked what he was going to do to prevent this from happening by Keir Starmer.
Johnson has said the country would be "moving to a system of testing rather than self-isolation”, but these changes will only come into force on 16 August, and only for those who have had both doses of the vaccine.
Yesterday health secretary Sajid Javid said the number of cases will hit 100,000 a day this summer, meaning if each person who tests positive has three close contacts more than two million people a week will have to self-isolate.
Statistics from the NHS show the number of people asked to quarantine via the app was already going up rapidly when the number of new infections was around 10,000 per day last month.
Figures for the seven days to 19 May, the week restrictions were relaxed to allow a limited number of people to meet indoors, fewer than 10,000 people received an alert from the app telling them to self-isolate.
But two weeks later, that number was up to 47,005. Three weeks later it had jumped to 218,985.
The number of people who are checking into venues using the app, however, is dropping.
Under current regulations, venues are required to take contact details from people on the premises, via the NHS Test and Trace app, or using their own system.
The NHS data show that by the start of June there were more than 14.5 million venue check-ins per week, up from 2.75 million during the week beginning 12 April, when pubs and other hospitality venues were able to open outdoors. But that figure dropped to 13.1 million on 9 June. For the week ending 23 June, the most recent available data check-ins had dropped further to 12.4 million.
The Test and Trace app, has been downloaded almost 26 million times since it launched in September 2020, but according to recently released data, around a third of devices may not be using it fully.
This could mean that people have turned off the crucial contact tracing function.
Separate figures for the Department of Health and Social Care's show that for the seven-day period beginning on 22 April, the app had been 23.3 million times.
But they also said a total of 16 million people “had the app fully or partially enabled on their phone”, a discrepancy of more than 7 million.
Among the 16 million versions of the app in use, the government admits this figure includes “users who have opted to disable contact tracing”.
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