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Nearly one in four people switching off NHS app in revolt against ‘pingdemic’

NHS test and trace app
Millions of people are self-isolating after being ‘pinged’ by the NHS app

Nearly one in four people have deleted or switched off the NHS Covid app and millions say they won’t self-isolate in a mass revolt against the ‘pingdemic’.

The backlash has been heightened by Boris Johnson’s initial attempt to avoid quarantining after he came into contact with Health Secretary Sajid Javid, who tested positive for the virus.

A major survey carried out by polling company JL Partners shows one in five people who have deleted the app have done so since the row at the weekend.

Both the prime minister and Chancellor Rishi Sunak planned to use a testing scheme loophole to avoid having to go into isolation, until public outrage forced them into a dramatic U-turn.

The poll asked people what they thought of the incident, with three quarters saying it shows senior Conservatives believe there is ‘one rule for them and another for everyone else’.

A quarter of people said they are less likely to follow the rules if pinged by the app as a result, while a third said they were more likely to delete the app because of the politicians’ behaviour.

Overall, nearly a quarter of people have either deleted the app or switched off the contract tracing function and of those who still have it, 24% are considering ditching it.

It comes after an estimated 1.7million people were forced to self-isolate just as Covid rules were lifted on Monday’s Freedom Day.

A message to self-isolate
Record numbers of people are being forced to self-isolate (Picture: PA)

Dubbed the ‘pingdemic’, a growing number of people have been alerted by the Covid app in recent weeks, grinding workplaces halt as fully jabbed staff in key industries are forced to isolate.

Critics say the app is too sensitive, with cases emerging of neighbours having to quarantine because they’ve been pinged through the walls.

The government has resisted calls to tweak the app despite warnings of food shortages.

Boris Johnson has said employers can apply to government departments to allow workers to effectively circumvent the rules, with decisions made largely on a ‘case-by-case’ basis.

But he stopped short of drawing up a list of critical jobs that will be exempt from self-isolation if pinged, leading to criticism from industry leaders.

This morning British Meat Processors Association chief executive Nick Allen warned food supply chains are ‘starting to fail’ because of a shortage of workers.

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Boris Johnson says, by his own decision, he's self-isolating until July 26

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He criticised ‘confusing messages’ from the government as he said ministers have not clarified who is applicable to the exemption.

‘There’s an air of despondency creeping through the industry really. Until now we’ve managed to keep the food supply chain running but there’s a sense of we’re starting to fail on that front,’ he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

Asked if production lines are stalling, he said: ‘They are. It’s happening already. We’re starting to see that at retail level and in restaurants – everyone is struggling to get things out really.’

He added: ‘It was made very clear to us late yesterday that this exemption will be for very, very few people. They described it as setting the bar very, very high and we’re certainly not counting on that.’

Pubs and shops have also complained about having to close because of the the number of people being pinged as contacts by the NHS Covid-19 app, while medics have also raised concerns

Downing Street has declined to say how many people will be granted exemptions, but it is understood the figure is not expected to reach the high tens of thousands.

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at webnews@metro.co.uk.

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