Perhaps several thousand inhabitants of England were in needless isolation. All because the NHS app (the SNS equivalent) is misconfigured and notifying people that they don’t need to be quarantined.
According to The Guardian, the bug prompted the app to notify people who had been in close contact with someone in the five days before that person contracted covid-19. However, the government has already changed the rules, and only people who have been in contact with the positive case in the two days before the test should be notified.
The newspaper wrote that the error was pointed out in a presentation to Matt Hancock, the then health secretary, shortly before his resignation in late June, but was not publicly acknowledged.
About a month later, the new health minister, Sajid Javid, said he would update the app so that the contacts of people who showed no symptoms only two days before testing positive, instead of five, will be contacted.
The disclosure means that several thousand people – those who had contact with asymptomatic people between five and three days before they tested positive – have been told to self-isolate unnecessarily.
Those responsible for the app responded this way to The Guardian: “The NHS Covid-19 app is a key tool in our response to the pandemic, saving thousands of lives and breaking transmission chains. The app prevented up to 2,000 Covid-19 cases per day in July.”
On Monday, the government eased isolation rules by ordering that fully vaccinated people who have been in close contact with a positive case, no longer need to isolate themselves for 10 days.
Instead, people will be advised to take a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, a rule change that will dramatically reduce a phenomenon known as “epidemic.” The Covid app has sent five million notices (“pings”) in England of an isolation order.
This phenomenon had an impact on many sectors of the economy, due to the shortage of workers, but Boris Johnson decided not to expect this measure to be eased, always keeping August 16 as the date for these restrictions to be relaxed further.
The recommendation for a PCR test will not go beyond this, and it is not mandatory. Moreover, people who have contacts with positives do not have to be isolated while waiting for test results.
The isolation is therefore limited to people who have tested positive for the new coronavirus.
The new system should also end the problem of mass truancy before the start of the new school year, where nearly a quarter of students have been forced to miss classes for reasons related to the pandemic.
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