The NHS Covid-19 app is going to be made less sensitive following reports that users are deleting the app to avoid self-isolation as alerts rise by 60 per cent.
Secretary of State for Transport, Grant Shapps, today confirmed the app would undergo changes to make allowances for the end to social distancing restrictions on 19 June.
Conservative MPs are among those rumoured to be deleting their apps to circumvent instruction to self-isolate, according to The Times – instead going into “self-imposed quarantine” ahead of their holidays.
“As our restrictions change, of course the app needs to change in line,” said Grant Shapps in an interview with the BBC this morning.
“I think the app is very important as one of the tools in our armoury – it is another way to regulate and give people more information about whether they may have been exposed.
“It’s in our interests as a society to carry on doing the things which help protect each other and we will make sure the app is constantly reviewed so it’s appropriate for the period of time that we’re living through, particularly now as we get into the majority of adults having been double-vaccinated thanks so the incredible vaccine roll-out.”
A gamble with public health
Alongside the spike in people deleting the app, Johnson’s grin-and-bear-it decision to drop all lockdown restrictions and plunge the UK into a new era of “personal responsibility” has been branded “a gamble with public health” by the leader of the Green Party, Caroline Lucas.
To say Govt’s lost control of Covid strategy would suggest it was once in control- it wasn’t— Caroline Lucas (@CarolineLucas) July 7, 2021
But likely new cases in coming weeks are shocking, it’s feared people will delete NHS app to avoid being traced & thousands face misery of long Covid
What a gamble with public health
This comes after Keir Starmer warned today raised concerns around decisions to “tune” the sensitivity of the app:
“It’s like taking the batteries out of the smoke alarm: it is so obviously to weaken the defences that we have – and if the consequence of the prime minister’s decision is that people are deleting the NHS app, or the app is being weakened, then that’s a pretty good indicator that the decision of the prime minister is wrong,” he said.
The dropping of all restrictions on 19 July for so-called ‘Freedom Day’ is drawing growing criticism on the world stage.
“The world is at a perilous point in this pandemic. We have just passed the tragic milestone of four million Covid-19 deaths, which likely underestimates the overall toll,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director-general.
“Some countries with high vaccination coverage are now planning to roll out booster shots in the coming months and are now dropping public health social measures, relaxing as though the pandemic is already over.”
Despite encouraging data showing lower infection prevalence in people who have had both doses of the vaccine, there is rapid growth in infections, especially among younger people.
According to most recent data from Imperial College London, the highest prevalence was found in 13–17-year-olds, in which the rate of infection has increased from 0.16 per cent to 1.33 per cent since 7 June.