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'Pingdemic' alerts telling app users to self-isolate drop 43% in a week
5 August 2021, 11:00 | Updated: 5 August 2021, 11:09
The number of people being told to self-isolate by the NHS Covid app has fallen dramatically.
A total of 395,971 alerts were sent in the week to July 28 telling people in England and Wales that they had been in close contact with someone who had tested positive for coronavirus.
This is down 43% on the previous week when 690,129 alerts were sent on the app, Government figures show.
Earlier this week it was announced that the app is being updated so fewer contacts will be instructed to isolate after an increase in people being pinged since lockdown restrictions ended - a so-called "pingdemic".
Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said the "logic" behind the app is being tweaked, although the sensitivity and risk threshold will remain unchanged.
Instead of checking contacts for five days before a positive test, the app will only go back two days.
Mike Tildesley, a member of the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Modelling group (Spi-M) advising ministers, described the app as "incredibly useful", despite large numbers of people being asked to isolate.
He told Sky News: "I know there have been some challenges in terms of particularly at the moment the so-called 'pingdemic', but in terms of being able to detect contact, it has been extremely valuable.
"Obviously the challenge with that is that a lot of people are going into isolation and over the last few days the app has been made less sensitive."
Dr Tildesley said there is a worry that if too many people are pinged, fewer may be willing to comply, but he added that the tweak will "hopefully guarantee higher levels of compliance".