The Prime Minister has been warned that people are likely to delete the Covid-19 app to avoid being notified they’ll have to self-isolate.
Boris Johnson was challenged throughout Prime Minister’s Questions today about the expected increase in cases that will occur as restrictions are eased in England.
The so-called ‘freedom day’, due to take place on July 19, will be the start of stage four of the government’s recovery roadmap, however, self-isolation rules won’t change until four weeks later on August 16.
Summer is expected to see around 100,000 cases a day which has led to warning that millions of people will be “pinged” by the app stating they will need to self-isolate if they’ve come into close contact with a Covid-positive person.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said: “It won’t feel like freedom day to those who have to isolate.
“When they are having to cancel their holidays, when they can’t go to the pub or even to their kid’s sports day and it won’t feel like freedom day… to the businesses who are already warning of carnage because of the loss of staff and customers.”
He told the Prime Minister: “There are already too many stories of people deleting the NHS app – he must have seen those stories – and they are doing it because they can see what’s coming down the track.
“Of course we don’t support that, but under his plan it is entirely predictable.”
Mr Starmer suggested that lifting the restrictions while maintaining self-isolation rules risked undermining the £37 billion NHS Test and Trace programme.
Self-isolation rules in England won’t change until August 16- fully vaccinated adults will no longer have to self-isolate if they come into close contact with a Covid-positive person but instead will be urged to take a test.
However, anyone who has tested positive with coronavirus will have to self-isolate, regardless of vaccinated status.
Mr Johnson said: “Of course we are going to continue with the programme of self-isolation for as long as that is necessary. I thank all those who are doing it.
“But of course what we are also doing is moving to a system of testing rather than self-isolation and we can do that because of the massive rollout of the vaccine programme.”
Many social media users have reported deleting the app to avoid notifications.
But professor Christophe Fraser from Oxford University’s Nuffield Department of Medicine, who advises Test and Trace, told Times Radio that usage of the app was at an “all-time high”.
He said: “About 50% of all, overall test results, nationally go through the app.
“The team monitors the usage of the app, and at this point in time the usage of the app is at an all-time high.”
When asked about the suggestion that 100,000 people could become infected each day over the summer, he said: “It would result in a large amount of people being traced, which of course slows down the rate of infection and limits the stress on the NHS in terms of hospital admissions.”