Boris Johnson urged to fix 'pingdemic' as minister admits no idea how many workers will have to isolate in weeks

DESPERATE bosses grappling with crippling staff shortages are demanding Boris Johnson fixes the "pingdemic" without delay.

A record 520,000 Brits were alerted by the NHS Covid app last week and told to quarantine for 10 days – even if they've been double-jabbed.


And a clueless minister admitted she had no idea how many more would be forced to isolate in the coming weeks as the Delta variant rips.

The Government has vowed to tweak the app's settings to make it less sensitive and pleaded with people to stick with it in the meantime.

But the PM is under mounting pressure to find a solution immediately as firms already treading water from lockdown are hit with more woes.

In crucial Covid developments:

  • 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
  • More than 520,000 people were pinged by the NHS Covid app last week
  • People complained about being pinged through walls
  • Daily cases spiked to highest since January with 48,553 testing positive in 24 hours

Exasperated firms are calling on him to bring forward scrapping self-isolation for the fully vaccinated from the current August 16 timetable.

CBI President Lord Bilimoria said swapping quarantine with regular testing would prevent British business grinding to a halt.

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

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"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."

Exasperated Punch Taverns founder Hugh Osmond fumed on the BBC the pingdemic was unleashing "absolute chaos" on his chains.

Bar staff – largely young and un-innoculated- were being particularly struck with the dreaded pings, he warned.

'IMPORTANT TOOL'

Government Solicitor General Lucy Frazer today acknowledged the "frustration" of businesses but remained defiant the app was an "important tool" to fight the spread of Covid.

The minister said the app was being reviewed yet appeared to rule out the requirement to self-isolate being ditched before August 16.

Grilled on how many people the Government expected would be forced to isolate in the coming weeks, she fessed: "Well, I personally don't have that figured to hand."

Asked if a Government figure exists she said: "I'm sure it's possible to extrapolate from current figures in order to get to that position."

Sir Jonathan Montgomery, professor of healthcare law at University College London, said that being "pinged" should be a tool used to "help us manage the risk" rather than always being required to self-isolate.

He told LBC: "We need to focus on how much risk actually you might be of having been infected, so your vaccination status is key to that, and then we need to look at your ability to spot whether you have been infected as quickly as possible."

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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