Record 1.5MILLION self-isolation alerts sent last week, data shows

England’s ‘pingdemic’ chaos is only getting worse: A record 1.5MILLION self-isolation alerts were sent last week, official data shows

  • NHS figures show a record 690,000 isolation alerts were given out by the NHS Covid app last week 
  • 536,000 people were reached by call handlers while 308,000 were asked to isolate after testing positive 
  • Ministers continue to face heavy criticism for refusing to ditch isolation requirements for most professions 

A record 1.5million people were asked to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace last week, official data shows as England’s ‘pingdemic’ chaos continues to rage on.

NHS figures show nearly 690,000 alerts were given out by the app last week, the highest number since it was introduced.

A further 536,000 people were reached by call handlers, while 308,000 were asked to isolate after testing positive for the virus. 

In total, more than 3.9million people have been told to isolate since the start of July, the data shows. 

However, a single person may be identified by the app and call handlers before going on to test positive themselves — or be asked to isolate multiple times in the same month — so the true number of individuals isolating is likely to be lower.

The damning statistics come as ministers continue to face heavy criticism for refusing to ditch isolation requirements despite lifting restrictions on ‘Freedom Day’.

Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick acknowledged the system is ‘frustrating’ but continued to urge people to isolate if they are pinged.

One of the Government’s top scientific advisors yesterday said he advised ministers to adopt a ‘test and release’ strategy as early as January, but Boris Johnson has so far refused to budge on the August 16 date for scrapping self-isolation for the double-jabbed.

And millions of workers across the country have been left unable to do their jobs because they are forced to isolate — despite not testing positive for the virus themselves.

Industry bosses have slammed the current system for forcing business to shut up shop because of the loss of workforce. 

A record 1.5million people were asked to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace last week, official data shows as England’s ‘pingdemic’ chaos continues to rage on. Graph shows: The number of people told to isolate by NHS Covid app (blue), contacts of someone testing positive reached by Test and Trace call handlers (orange) and people isolating because they tested positive (green) each month

NHS figures show nearly 690,000 alerts were given out by the app last week, the highest number since it was introduced

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said 75 per cent of respondents to a survey published today aged between 18 and 34 said they fully adhered to the isolation requirements for the entire 10-day period after testing positive for coronavirus 

This graph shows the proportion of Covid-positive cases who were not reached and asked to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace (red), and the total number of cases transferred (blue). Test and Trace missed 14 per cent of Covid-infected people in England two weeks ago, the most since the start of the second wave

The latest NHS figures on alerts from the app for the week to July 21, are an 11 per cent rise on the previous record high of 619,733 alerts a week earlier.

This week the Government said it was expanding its daily contact testing for front-line sectors who are exempt from isolation.

A total of 2,000 sites across the country are available for people working in prisons, waste collection, defence, the food industry, transport, Border Force and police and fire services.

Covid self-isolation rates were already dropping BEFORE ‘Freedom Day’ with a quarter of infected 18-34 year olds defying strict quarantine rules 

Covid self-isolation rates were already dropping before ‘Freedom Day’, official data revealed today.

A quarter of infected 18 to 34 year olds confessed to defying strict quarantine rules one week before England’s lockdown was loosened in July. 

For comparison, the figure was just half of that in May — before pubs were allowed to reopen again.

But rates have barely changed for older adults, the same statistics showed.

Office for National Statistics (ONS) polling data showed adherence to isolation rules dropped across the board between May and July.

The figures, based on a survey of nearly 1,000 adults, come before the ‘pingdemic’ truly took off.

The next release, which will reveal how behaviour has changed following Freedom Day and the self-isolation chaos, isn’t due until the end of August.

Daily negative test results will enable eligible workers who have been alerted by the NHS Covid app or called by NHS Test and Trace as coronavirus contacts to continue working.

But one in four young adults who test positive no longer follow the rules for self-isolating, a survey published today suggested.

Office for National Statistics (ONS) data released today shows adherence to isolation rules in people in the age group who tested positive for Covid were consistently dropping in the three months leading up to July.

A survey of 936 adults between July 5 and 10 showed significantly more people aged 18 to 34 ignored the order to stay at home despite being infected with the virus than any other age group. 

Around 75 per cent adhered to the rules — less than those aged 55 and over (81 per cent) and between 35 and 54 (86 per cent).

And 18- to 34-year-olds’ adherence dropped compared to the weeks ending May 15 (88 per cent) and June 12 (77 per cent).

The Communities Secretary urged people to continue following the rules and isolate if they are pinged.

Mr Jenrick BBC news channel: ‘I appreciate that it is a significant number of people and it can be frustrating but the app is doing what we asked of it.

‘It is helping us to trace those people who have come into contact with people who’ve tested positive.

‘We still ask people, if they are pinged, to take the steps that they’re required to do and to self-isolate.’

He said there ‘isn’t very long to go’ until August 16 when all fully vaccinated contacts who test negative can avoid isolation.

He added: ‘The Government has also set out slightly different arrangements for certain critical workers such as those working within the emergency services and within critical infrastructure such as the food industry, to help us through the remaining two or three weeks before those new rules come into place.’

But many business owners across Britain have been forced to close while their employees isolate at home. 

Alan Thomas, UK chief executive at Simply Business — which provides insurance to small business — said: ‘The ‘pingdemic’ is proving another obstacle for small businesses in their recovery from the impact of Covid. 

‘The number of staff — and indeed self-employed people — in isolation is a major issue across every industry, and up and down the country we’re seeing businesses temporarily close due to record levels of self-isolation.

‘Freedom day was supposed to be a positive milestone for the self-employed — with businesses finally able to operate at full capacity, or even open for the first time. 

‘But many are now finding themselves shutting up shop once again.’ 

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