No10 rows back on plans to reduce NHS track & trace app sensitivity as people 'pinged through walls'

THE sensitivity of the NHS Covid app WON'T be tweaked to save Britain from a "pingdemic", Downing Street suggested today.

No10 insisted the app was working "as it's designed to do" and rejected concerns loads of people were being zapped through brick walls.


A record 530,000 Brits were alerted last week and told to quarantine for 10 days – even if they've been double-jabbed.

Last week top doc Jenny Harries said work was underway to "tune" the app to factor in the evermore vaccinated population.

Downing Street today said the app remains under review but appeared torow back from plans to alter the settings.

A spokesman said: "Obviously, we keep things under review but the app is doing what it's designed to do.

"It's designed to detect people you've been in close proximity to. It's designed to flag to you if they have received a positive test result.

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"That's what it was designed to do, and that's what it's doing."

In Covid developments:

  • Downing Street has not forecast how many people will be pinged in the coming weeks
  • Low Bluetooth settings means it's unlikely you'll get pinged through brick walls, No10 said
  • No10 hinted more key sectors could be exempt from isolating when pinged
  • Top Gov scientist Chris Whitty warned "we're not out of the woods" yet and warned of future lockdowns
  • A minister said Freedom Day must go ahead on Monday but said restrictions could be reimposed

Reports of widespread pinging through brick walls if someone's neighbours tested positive were dismissed by No10.

The spokesman said: "We are confident that is not contributing to large numbers of people being told to self-isolate."

STAFFING CRISIS

From August 16 people in England who have come into contact with a Covid case won't have to self-isolate, but get tested instead.

Desperate bosses grappling with a crippling staffing crisis have urged Boris Johnson to bring forward this date to avoid more damage.

But No10 is refusing to budge from the original timetable set out last week.

A pilot is underway to see if self-isolation can be swapped with daily lateral flow testing, but is not expected to conclude for at least two months.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid has said NHS staff will be exempt from isolating if pinged to prevent understaffed hospitals grinding to a halt.

Downing Street today did not rule out other key sectors also being exempt, saying it is being kept under review.

It could pave the way for key workers like public transport staff skipping quarantine if alerted by the app.

CBI President Lord Bilimoria said swapping quarantine with regular testing would prevent UK PLC being brought to its knees.

The big business boss raged on Times Radio: "That's the solution; not to close down the economy in this way.

"I think the government has got to listen because it is devastating the economy and the health service itself, that we're so reliant on is being affected by it."

Despite the "pingdemic" bringing British business to its knees, most people are continuing to follow the guidance to self-isolate.

Some 89 per cent of respondents to an ONS survey said they had fully adhered to self-isolation requirements for the entire 10-day period.

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