Huge drop in number of users ‘pinged’ by NHS Covid app in Wiltshire

The number of people getting “pinged” by the NHS app in Wiltshire has significantly dropped in the last few weeks.

The app sends contact tracing alerts to users when they have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for Covid-19.

Users who have been “pinged” are strongly recommended to self-isolate for up to 10 days, but are not legally required to do so.

NHS figures show that there were 3,896 app users in Wiltshire “pinged” by the app between July 22 and July 28, the last available period.

This compares with 6,621 the week before – a drop of more than 2,500 people.

There has also been a drop in the number of test results linked to the app, which includes tests booked through the app, where the results are linked back to the app automatically, and tests booked outside of the app that the user manually links to their app using a code.

There were 2,926 results recorded between July 22 and July 28, compared with 4,357 the week before.

There were significantly more negative tests reported in the last week in Wiltshire – 682 positive tests, compared with 2,244 negative results.

The website also says that it is likely that more rates of positive tests in the app are higher than other rates reported by Test and Trace because users are generally more likely to enter a positive result than a negative one, as entering a positive result triggers the contact tracing element of the app and the self-isolation countdown timer. 

The app is being updated to reduce the number of people that are “pinged” and asked to self-isolate, after the so-called “pingdemic”.

Health secretary Sajid Javid led a review of the app to reduce disruption to people and businesses.

Currently the app looks for close contacts five days before a positive test, but this will be tweaked to look at contacts just two days prior to a positive test.

Mr 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.”


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