The so-called ‘pingdemic’ is causing growing concern across England.
Thousands of workers are being forced to stay at home after being pinged by the NHS Covid app to say that they have been in contact with someone with Covid-19 and must self-isolate.
Now shops are under “increasing pressure” to keep shelves fully stocked amid staff shortages caused by the pingdemic, the British Retail Consortium has warned.
Further confusion was caused when two government ministers said that people were under no legal duty to comply with the app alert. Downing Street then said: “Isolation remains the most important action people can take to stop the spread of the virus.”
So what should we do? The man in charge of York’s vaccination programme has given some advice.
Dr Mike Holmes, chair of Nimbuscare, the primary care group overseeing the vaccination programme in the city, told YorkMix Radio that the ping was not legally binding.
If you get an alert, “you should do is do your own risk assessment,” Dr Holmes said.
“So we’re talking about taking responsibility here. This is not about you – sometimes this is about the public, the spread of the virus through the population.
“If you get pinged, it will tell you where you were when you came into contact. The idea is that you do your own risk assessment.
“Were you socially distanced? Were you wearing a mask? Do you feel that you could have been at risk?
“And if you do, then there’s a request that you take your social obligation seriously, and self isolate. If you don’t, if you think that you weren’t at risk, then that’s fine. You don’t need to self isolate.”
But there is an occasion when you must self-isolate.
“If you’re texted or called by test and trace, that’s different. That’s legally binding, and you must self isolate.”
Dr Holmes also updated Ben Fry and Laura Castle on the Breakfast Mix show about the numbers of young people taking up the jab.
He said between 60-70% of 18 to 29-year-olds had taken the chance to have their first jab so far.
But they only became eligible for the vaccination a month ago, “and of course, we can’t vaccinate everybody at the same time,” Dr Holmes said. “Also we’ve seen a spike of coronavirus, and there has to be a delay between a positive test and getting your vaccination”.
He said: “We’ve still got time, and we’re still getting the message out to please come and get vaccinated.”