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NHS Covid-19 app updated to reduce notifications


Mark Say Managing Editor

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The NHS Covid-19 app for England and Wales has been changed to reduce the number of people being advised to self-isolate following close contact with a positive case.

The Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) said the logic that underpins how people are notified has been updated based on public health advice.

Previously, it has looked for close contacts over five days prior to a positive test for the coronavirus; but this has now been reduced to two days. DHSC said this will mean fewer contacts that took place when the positive case unlikely to be at the peak of their infectiousness are advised to self-isolate.

It added that the update does not impact the sensitivity of the app or change the risk threshold and will result in the same number of high risk contacts receiving the self-isolation advice.

Contacts are established through a Bluetooth connection between smartphones with the app loaded.

Reduce disruption

Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said: “We want to reduce the disruption that self-isolation can cause for people and businesses, while ensuring we’re protecting those most at risk from this virus. This update to the app will help ensure that we are striking the right balance.

“It’s so important that people isolate when asked to do so in order to stop the spread of the virus and protect their communities.”

From 16 August, fully vaccinated contacts in England will be exempt from isolation and instead advised to take a PCR test. Those who are not fully vaccinated will still be required to isolate.

The app works with a team of independent scientific advisers led by Christophe Fraser from Oxford University’s Pathogen Dynamics Group at the Big Data Institute.

Image from GOV.UK, Open Government Licence v3.0

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