A contact tracing app sent more than 600,000 Britons into isolation within a week. Self-isolation is causing a wave of absenteeism that worries employers.
NHS Covid-19 – the British system that traces infected contacts, the Portuguese equivalent of StayAway Covid – has issued self-isolation alerts to more than 600,000 users in England and Wales per week from 8 to 15 July. The submission of 618,903 notifications reflects an increase of 17% over the previous week. And even if the alerted citizens are fully vaccinated (seven out of 10 adults are already), everyone must comply with the isolation if the app notifies them.
The situation – which has come to be known as a “pandemic” (because of the “ping” sound associated with sending the alert) – is spurring complaints from businesses, as the isolation causes serious staff shortages and affects the services of different sectors – food retail, gas stations, freight transport and security forces.
With the restrictions in place, supermarkets are already feeling pressure to keep produce on shelves. The British Iceland chain announced it would employ 2,000 people to cover absences and would work fewer hours a day, while Tesco said it had run out of bottled water for sale and Co-op said it was experiencing a “significant impact”. On the “vast majority” of institutions. According to the “Daily Telegraph”, the British police themselves are suffering from a shortage of customers across the country.
After the restrictions, the government has already announced that workers in certain industries, or those working in the first line of fighting the epidemic, are exempted from complying with the 10-day isolation if they are marked by the application, but the measure has not yet been formalized.
Despite vaccination at a high rate, the UK still has 12% of adults and almost all children to be vaccinated. Last week, more than a million children did not go to school for reasons related to the coronavirus.
Portuguese app in decline
As reported by “Expresso” last week, since May 1, the Portuguese app StayAway Covid has not received any code from people diagnosed with the virus. The information was provided by INESC TEC, a Porto-based institute that runs a mobile application developed to trigger alerts to people also using StayAway Covid who have been close to an infected person.
According to the same news, even though the codes were not entered by users, they continued to be produced by health professionals when they diagnosed the infection. According to the Department of Health’s Shared Services (SPMS), 420 tokens were generated between May 1 and Thursday last week. In other words, although it represents a small part of the 52 thousand active infections (today’s value), the number allows us to conclude that users who received the codes chose not to include them in the application.