The most recent figures show a record 689,313 alerts were sent to users of the NHS coronavirus app in England and Wales in one week. Businesses in all sectors have complained that they are struggling to maintain operations with so many staff told to stay home in case they’ve contracted the virus from contact with someone who tested positive.
Now, a top immunologist has told Express.co.uk that the ten-day isolation period is no longer necessary as the virus mutates, and a shorter period of isolation would be less disruptive and more likely to be obeyed.
Denis Kinane, an immunologist and CMO of Cignpost Diagnostics said: “Intensive PCR testing experience of workplaces has shown that pinged contacts will test positive if infected within four days.”
He said the reason this can be trusted is that “the Delta variant reaches infective viral load levels more quickly than previous variants” – so if you’re going to get Covid, it will happen quicker than previous variants.
Mr Kinane said that “anyone testing negative after four days should therefore be able to return to normal activities”.
However, he said a PCR test would be the safest way to ensure this method works, rather than only relying on lateral flow tests – a negative PCR test on day four would allow the person pinged back into society.
Currently, anyone pinged is expected to stay inside their home and not leave until a ten-day period has passed and you remain symptom-free.
The app works by detecting if a user has been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus.
This “close contact” is based on an algorithm that detects whether you’ve been within two metres of someone with Covid for 15 minutes or more.
But with lockdown restrictions being eased and people allowed to socialise again, the number of people being pinged by the app is increasing at a dramatic rate, now dubbed a “pingdemic”.
Supermarket shelves across England and Wales are sitting empty as the number of workers pinged leaves crippling staff shortages.
Entire pubs, restaurants and hotels have been forced to close their doors as whole teams are pinged at once.
The car industry has reported a slump in production blamed on the pingdemic, with leaders calling on the Government to bring forward the date for exempting fully-vaccinated adults from self-isolation rules.
The Government has insisted that self-isolating when asked to do so by the app is crucial to managing the spread of the virus.
However, it isn’t a legal obligation to isolate when pinged, with some hospitality workers reportedly being told to delete the app to prevent further interruptions.
In a recent interview, Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng told the BBC: “If you are pinged, you should self-isolate.
“I know it poses challenges but the rules are clear and I think they should be followed.”
While the pingdemic continues, there will soon be some relief – anyone fully vaccinated will no longer have to self-isolate from August 16.
Instead, you will be asked if you are fully vaccinated, and if so, to take one PCR test to ensure you’re not infected.
If you test positive, you will still need to self-isolate, just like anyone else.
Similar rules are due to come into force in Scotland from 9 August – and in Wales from 7 August.
Published at Sat, 31 Jul 2021 08:40:05 +0000