Britain’s health ministry said that the England’s COVID-19 mobile phone app will be tweaked so that fewer contacts of asymptomatic people who test positive for the disease will need to self-isolate. Business leaders have raised concerns about the numbers of staff who are having to self-isolate after being pinged by the app when they come into contact with someone who then tests positive for COVID.
Under the change, if someone tests positive but is asymptomatic, the app will look for their close contacts in the two days prior to the positive test, rather than five days before the test. The health ministry said that this change would reduce the number of notifications sent by the app. But this would not reduce the app’s sensitivity. Health minister Sajid Javid said that they want to reduce the disruption that self-isolation can cause for people and businesses, while ensuring that they are protecting those most at risk from this virus. This update to the app will help ensure that they are striking the right balance.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has lifted nearly all coronavirus restrictions in England, saying that vaccines have largely broken the link between coronavirus cases and death. The government has urged people to keep using the app, which is not compulsory. It said that contacts who were previously being notified to self-isolate in the old system were unlikely to have been exposed to the positive person at the peak of their infectiousness. Further changes to the self-isolation rules will come in on August 16, when people who are fully vaccinated and come into contact with a positive case won’t have to self-isolate unless they test positive themselves.