Hundreds in South Tyneside "pinged" by Covid app

Hundreds of people in South Tyneside were “pinged” by the NHS Covid-19 app and told to isolate in the last week of July, new figures reveal.

The NHS Covid-19 contact tracing app. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
The NHS Covid-19 contact tracing app. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

NHS figures show 847 people in the area were contacted by the Covid mobile phone app in the week to July 28 – the latest available data – down from the 1,773 alerts sent out the week before.

The app warns people that they have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus and advises them to isolate for up to 10 days, although there is no legal obligation to do so.

Nationally, nearly 396,000 alerts were sent to Covid app users – down 43% on the previous week but there was also a significant drop in the number of check-ins to venues using the app.

There were 2.4 million check-ins in the week to July 28 – 65% down on the previous seven days.

In South Tyneside, there were 4,720 venue check-ins, 65% down on the week before.

The app is being updated so fewer contacts will be instructed to isolate, after the lifting of lockdown restrictions led to a huge increase in the number of people being contacted – the so-called “pingdemic”.

Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said the “logic” behind the app is being tweaked, although the sensitivity and risk thresholds remain unchanged.

Instead of checking contacts for five days before a positive test, the app will only go back two days.

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. This update will help ensure that we are striking the right balance.”

Separate Department for Health and Social Care figures show in South Tyneside, contact tracers told 1,256 close contacts of people with coronavirus to self-isolate in the week to July 28 – down from 2,587 the week before.

The figures show 1,349 people who came into close contact with someone who tested positive in South Tyneside were transferred to Test and Trace.

THat means 93 contacts were not reached by the service.