THE NHS Covid app is at last being watered down so fewer people are “pinged” and sent into self isolation.
Only those in contact with a Covid case two days prior will be told to stay at home, compared to the current five days, the Government announced.
It will hopefully save thousands of people from needlessly quarantining at home despite negative test results.
The move aims to encourage people to keep using the app, after it caused chaos across the UK.
Hundreds of thousands of people have been forced to self isolate due to the "pingdemic", potentially off work, with half a million notifications in one week.
It led to people deleting the app in fear it would scupper their plans for weddings, holidays and other events.
And some experts said the sudden drop in Covid cases could be because fewer people are using the app and getting tested for the disease.
It comes as:
- Virus patients of any age are at risk of suffering a heart attack in the first two weeks after contracting the illness, experts have warned
- The PM refuses to rule out a new 'amber watch list' – and admitted his concern over new variants
- Bin lorry drivers are being offered £3,000 bonuses to clear a huge backlog of rubbish
- China forces millions back into lockdown as the Delta variant hits 20 cities in the biggest outbreak since Wuhan
Health and Social Care Secretary, Sajid Javid said the change, coming in force today, will “ensure we are striking the right balance” between reducing disrupting "pings" and protecting those at risk.
He 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 from this virus.
“This update to the app will help ensure that we are striking the right balance.
“It’s so important that people isolate when asked to do so in order to stop the spread of the virus and protect their communities.”
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Dr Jenny Harries, CEO of the UK Health Security Agency, said: “The NHS COVID-19 App is a really practical example of how technology can be used to fight the biggest challenges we face in protecting and improving our health.
“The app is the simplest, easiest, and fastest way to find out whether you have been exposed to the virus, and it has saved thousands of lives over the course of this pandemic.
“I strongly encourage everyone, even those fully vaccinated, to continue using the app. It is a lifesaving tool that helps us to stay safe and to protect those closest to us as we return to a more familiar way of life.”
Up until now, for people who input a positive test but have no symptoms, the app looks for close contacts five days prior to the positive test.
This will be updated based on public health advice to look back at contacts two days prior to a positive test.
The people who will not be told to isolate are unlikely to have come into contact with the Covid patient when they were most infectious, the Department of Health said.
It claimed the same number of high-risk contacts will be advised to self-isolate.
From August 16, fully vaccinated contacts in England will be exempt from isolation and instead will be advised to take a PCR test.
Those who are not fully vaccinated will still be required to isolate.
It comes as new analysis shows the NHS COVID-19 App helped avert up to 2,000 cases per day in the first three weeks of July.
Over 50,000 cases of Covid, including chains of transmission assuming 60 per cent compliance with instructions to self-isolate, were avoided, experts estimated.
This is expected to have prevented 1,600 hospitalisations.
For every 200 to 250 Covid tests put into the app, one person is saved from being hospitalised.
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