A record 618,903 people in England and Wales have been slashed by the NHS COVID-19 app in a week, according to the latest figures.
Alerts were sent to app users in the week leading up to July 14, telling them that they had been in close contact with someone who tested positive for the coronavirus and needed to self-isolate.
Of these, 607,486 alerts were sent to people in England – up 16.8% from the 520,194 registered for England in the previous week.
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Around 428,000 additional people were contacted by NHS Test and Trace contact tracers in England and were invited to
self-isolate in the week leading up to July 14, according to the latest figures – about 90% of the 475,465 people identified as close contacts of COVID cases.
It came after 259,265 people tested positive for COVID-19 in England at least once during the same period, up 33% from the previous week.
This is the first set of numbers since the majority of restrictions have been lifted in England Monday.
Many experts have predicted that easing regulations could lead to an increase in cases as the virus spreads quickly through the unvaccinated population, which currently represents 12% of adults and almost all the children in England.
On Tuesday it was revealed that over a million children in England were out of school last week for reasons related to the coronavirus.
While nearly seven in 10 adults have the protection of two jabs, currently all must self-isolate if requested by the NHS Test and Trace.
And Tuesday, Downing Street said it was “crucial” for people to isolate themselves when pinged by the NHS COVID app.
Speaking to Kay Burley Thursday, Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said the government was “very concerned” on the number of people surveyed by the NHS app.
Mr Kwarteng said ministers were “monitoring” the situation and would draw up a list of critical exempt workers “very soon”, hoping it would be released on Thursday.
The consequences of what has come to be dubbed the recent ‘pingemia’ have been reports of empty shelves in some supermarkets, unmanned businesses and delays in supplying consumers.
• Supermarket and retailers saying they are under pressure to keep supermarket shelves stocked as truck drivers and production workers isolate themselves
• A food distribution company advises its staff to come to work after receiving a ping if they have a negative PCR test.
• Police response times are “live” as forces are affected by the impact of personnel shortages
• Several senior politicians, including the Prime Minister, the Secretary of Health and the leader of the opposition is one of those who isolate himself
Ian Wright, chief executive of the Food and Drink Federation, told Sky News’ Ian King Live: “The situation is worrying and it is at the top and bottom of the supply chain.
“It’s not consistent across the country. There are places where stores and factories are functioning perfectly normally and in other parts … 25% of the staff.
“More and more, the cause stings and it gets worse. In manufacturing, this is definitely a problem. This is particularly a problem in slaughterhouses.
“There has been a lot of writing about the problems of distribution drivers and heavy goods vehicles. And we know from this morning’s coverage that there were also some very serious problems in the reception … There where it’s going is bad. “
The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has urged the government to act.
BRC chief executive Helen Dickinson told BBC Breakfast: “The most important thing for the government to do is to recognize that the current situation is untenable.”