In the future, the app will only work if anyone who has tested positive has been contacted in the past two days, the British Health Ministry said on Monday. So far the search has gone back five days. Even fully vaccinated people will have to self-isolate. The ministry stressed that the update did not change the app’s sensitivity or exposure threshold.
“This update of the app will help us find the right balance,” Health Minister Sajid Javid said. “We want to minimize the disruption that can cause people and businesses to self-isolate, while ensuring that we protect the most vulnerable from this virus.” Citing government officials, Sky News reported that the CoV app in the first three weeks of July helped avoid more than 50,000 new infections and 1,600 hospital admissions.
The need for mass testing instead of “mass isolation”
However, the loss of lakhs of employees put many industries in peril. Supermarket shelves remained empty, restaurants remained closed, garbage was not removed, transport companies had to change timetables and truck drivers remained absent. Personnel constraints in Great Britain were called “pingdemic”. The designation is derived from the app’s “ping”, which sounds when you are notified of a CoV positive contact.
The economy had called for an end to self-isolation over the weekend. Industrial union CBI chief Tony Danker said “large-scale isolation” should be replaced by large-scale tests. The opposition also called for the provisions to be changed earlier than planned. So far, there was no plan to change the rules till August 16. Yet those fully vaccinated should be allowed to step out of the house with a negative test despite the app’s warning.
Repeated requests for quarantine were a side effect of widespread easing in England. Distance and masks are voluntary in many places here. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have their own policies and are more cautious. Prime Minister Boris Johnson justified the ease with the fact that vaccination has now largely removed the link between coronavirus cases and deaths.
Exceptions for Systemically Important Businesses
Due to the strong influence in systemically important sectors, the British government had just a few days earlier pulled the emergency brakes on some industries. Exceptions have been introduced in strategically important occupations such as grocery trading, train drivers and firefighters. Employees here are allowed to come to work with a negative test despite the app’s warning. The unions sharply criticized these exceptions and called on workers to stay at home despite the exception so that there is no health risk.
As of Monday, fully vaccinated travelers and minors from almost all EU countries, including Austria and the United States, will no longer have to isolate after their arrival in Great Britain. There is no longer a need for a CoV test only after the second day after admission.
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