Department of Health and Social Care
NHS COVID-19 app updated to notify fewer contacts to isolate
Public urged to continue using NHS COVID-19 app as changes made will result in fewer close contacts being advised to self-isolate.
- Fewer contacts will be notified by the app following an update to the ‘logic’
- Public urged to continue using NHS COVID-19 App as restrictions lift
- New data shows over 50,000 cases were averted in the first 3 weeks of July – with up to 2,000 cases prevented a day
The public is being urged to continue to use the NHS COVID-19 App as changes made as of yesterday (Monday 2 August) will result in fewer contacts being advised to self-isolate following a close contact with a positive case.
As part of a review into the app announced by the Health Secretary, the ‘logic’ which underpins how close contacts are notified will be updated as of yesterday.
Currently, for people who input a positive test but are asymptomatic, the app looks for close contacts five days prior to a positive test. This will be updated based on public health advice to look back at contacts two days prior to a positive test.
The change will mean fewer contacts that took place when the positive case was unlikely to be at the peak of their infectiousness are advised to self-isolate, reducing the overall number of notifications sent by the app.
This 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 being advised to self-isolate.
Health and Social Care Secretary, Sajid Javid yesterday 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.
This update comes as new analysis shows the NHS COVID-19 App continues to play a crucial role in breaking chains of transmission, preventing hospitalisations and saving lives.
New analysis from leading scientists shows that in the first 3 weeks of July, as cases were exponentially rising, the app averted up to 2,000 cases per day, and over 50,000 cases of COVID-19 including chains of transmission assuming 60% compliance with instructions to self-isolate. This is estimated to have prevented 1,600 hospitalisations.
It also shows the app reduces the spread of COVID-19 by around 4.3% each week, and for every 200-250 tests entered and shared in the app one person is prevented from being hospitalised from the virus.
Usage remains high, with around 40% of the eligible population regularly using the app and around 50% of all reported tests being inputted.
The government is urging the public to continue using the NHS COVID-19 App. Around one in three people experience this virus without symptoms and, even if you are fully vaccinated, it is possible that you could be unwittingly carrying and spreading the virus, creating a chain of transmission that could have someone vulnerable to the virus at the end of it.
Dr Jenny Harries, CEO of UK Health Security Agency, yesterday said:
The NHS COVID-19 App is a really practical example of how technology can be used to fight the biggest challenges we face in protecting and improving our health.
The app is the simplest, easiest, and fastest way to find out whether you have been exposed to the virus, and it has saved thousands of lives over the course of this pandemic.
I strongly encourage everyone, even those fully vaccinated, to continue using the app. It is a lifesaving tool that helps us to stay safe and to protect those closest to us as we return to a more familiar way of life.
The app remains the fastest way to know if you have been at risk, and app users will only be advised to isolate if they have come into close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.
From 16 August, fully vaccinated contacts in England will be exempt from isolation and instead will be advised to take a PCR test. Those who are not fully vaccinated will still be required to isolate, and it will remain a legal obligation to isolate if you test positive for COVID-19.
- The app works with a team of independent scientific advisors lead by Christophe Fraser from Oxford University’s Pathogen Dynamics Group at the Big Data Institute. These recent findings are published on their blog and a paper is expected to follow. This can be found here
- An explanation of the Risk Algorithm of the NHS COVID-19 App can be found here
- Regular data published on the NHS COVID-19 App can be found here
Latest News from
Department of Health and Social Care
Health and Social Care Secretary: Spectator Health Summit29/11/2022 15:10:00
Speech given yesterday by Health and Social Care Secretary Steve Barclay at the Spectator Health Summit in London.
New measures to improve access to dental care29/11/2022 10:10:10
A new package of measures to improve patient access to dental care has been introduced by the government.
Government to use Vaccine Taskforce model to tackle health challenges28/11/2022 16:10:00
Patients will benefit from cutting-edge new treatments as the government introduces a Vaccine Taskforce style approach to tackling health challenges.
New obesity treatments and technology to save the NHS billions28/11/2022 13:10:00
A £20 million research boost will help to develop new medicines and digital tools which have been shown to help people shed 20% of their weight.
Eligible people urged to get vaccinated as flu season officially under way25/11/2022 12:10:00
Flu cases have risen to levels not seen before Covid pandemic, with all eligible people now urged to come forward.
Record numbers of NHS doctors and nurses24/11/2022 16:05:00
A record number of doctors and nurses are now working in the NHS in England
GP practice data available for first time24/11/2022 15:05:00
Patients will have better choice of what GP practice they visit after data showing appointment waiting times is published for the first time today.
Consultation launched to protect patients from silent pandemic of antimicrobial resistance23/11/2022 13:10:00
New consultation launched to inform next stage of tackling antimicrobial resistance building on 20-year vision.