Thousands of people stayed home due to a bug with the NHS Covid-19 app – missing work, social events and other commitments, a source told The Guardian. The bug allegedly caused the software to alert anyone who was in close contact with someone in the past five days who tested positive in the past five days – not two.
If the Whitehall whistleblower is right, thousands of people across England have been told to self-isolate despite being in close proximity to someone before they contracted the virus or became contagious. The NHS Covid-19 app is designed to slow the spread of the highly contagious virus by tracking your movements and notifying you when you’ve been in close proximity to someone who later tested positive.
The bug came before the recent relaxation of government rules that allow anyone who has received two doses of Covid vaccine to skip self-isolation if they come in contact with someone who tests positive for the virus. It is recommended to perform a PCR test, but it is not mandatory according to the latest regulations.
As always, anyone who tests positive themselves must stay home to stop the virus from spreading.
Published guidelines for the NHS Covid-19 app, available on iPhone and Android, always defined “close contact” as within the two days before the infected person developed symptoms. The NHS Test and Trace Service uses the same time period in its definition.
“The standard definition of a contact in all science and public affairs by Public Health England and NHS testing and tracking is someone who was in contact two days before symptoms started going back two days after the test,” the source told The Guardian. “But the app stayed in it for five days. At the time of his resignation, Hancock was presented with a template by Test and Trace people that said, “It’s five days, but it should be two days: should we change it now? And it didn’t happen. ‘”
When the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs was asked for an opinion, the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs did not deny the insider’s statements. Indeed, in early August, when the DHSC confirmed plans to relax the “logic” central to identifying and notifying close contact in the app, the DHSC referred to the contact deadline as “five days” … although there was none previous literature gave on the app with this figure.