What to do if you get 'pinged' by the NHS Covid app

A message to self-isolate, with one day of required isolation remaining

A message to self-isolate, with one day of required isolation remaining, is displayed on the NHS coronavirus contact tracing app - Credit: PA

More than 500,000 people were "pinged" by the NHS Covid-19 app in one week – but what should you do if you are alerted by the app?

A total of 530,126 alerts were sent out by the mobile app in the week to July 7 as the virus continues to spread across the country.

The optional app alerts users who have been in close contact with a positive coronavirus case, asking those affected to isolate for  10 days to help curb the potential spread of infection.

It is most commonly used by people to check-in to venues such as pubs and restaurants, as a means to help track and trace.

Suffolk is currently in the Medium Tier in the new lockdown system. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

A record number of people are being "pinged" by the NHS Covid-19 app - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

The app uses an algorithm, which generally classes "close contact" as being within two metres of someone with coronavirus for 15 minutes or more.

The increase in "pings" has caused havoc across different industries in England, with Nissan and Rolls Royce hit by staff shortages after workers were alerted by the app.

However, the app does so with good reason, 194,005 people tested positive for Covid-19 in England at least once in the week to July 7 – the highest since the week to January 27. 

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Being an optional app, the advisory to self-isolate is, as it states, just an advisory. Those who are told to isolate by an NHS Test and Trace official must self-isolate by law, however.

But self-isolation being something optional after "pinging" doesn't mean the app is not well-intentioned.

Being in contact with someone with Covid increases the chances of you contracting it – and socialising with others increases the chance of you passing it on to them.

Changes to the app's sensitivity are being planned, although a timeframe for the change has not been revealed. With the easing of restrictions on July 19, even more "pings" are guaranteed to go out.

People who have been double vaccinated will not have to self-isolate after being in close contact with a Covid-positive person from August 16.