Sajid Javid hints at NHS Covid-19 app change after MP raises concerns about isolation alerts

Health secretary Sajid Javid said changes could soon be made to the NHS Covid-19 app after a Yorkshire MP raised concerns about people being told to self isolate unnecessarily.

More than 25m people have downloaded the app but MPs have raised concerns about a recent surge in self isolation alerts
More than 25m people have downloaded the app but MPs have raised concerns about a recent surge in self isolation alerts

The Conservative minister said the Government will take a "fresh look at any changes that we can make" and look to make the app "more measured", following a recent surge in isolation alerts.

It comes after Robbie Moore, MP for Keighley, called for the app to be altered, to ensure that people who pose no risk of spreading Covid-19 are not told to self isolate.

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Under the current system, alerts telling people to isolate for up to 10 days are sent out if they have come within 2m of someone who has tested positive for the virus for at least 15 minutes.

Robbie Moore, MP for Keighley

But according to the BBC, those measurements will soon be altered to ensure the app sends out fewer alerts.

Speaking in the Commons, Mr Moore said: “Last week, I heard from a self-employed small business owner in my constituency of Keighley and Ilkley who has been told to self-isolate three times in the past two months, despite not testing positive on any of those occasions.

“Will my right honourable friend assure me that he is exploring all possible options to remedy the situation, whether through adjustments to the NHS app or changes to the self-isolation rules?”

Mr Javid said: ”It is right, as I have said, that we take a fresh look at any changes that we can make in the light of the success of the mass vaccination campaign. If my honourable friend will bear with me, I think he will be pleased with our course of action.”

Jacob Young, MP for Redcar, told the Tory minister that "more and more people are having to self-isolate due to the dreaded ping" in his constituency and asked if anything can be done to prevent people from having to self-isolate unnecessarily.

Mr Javid said: “The so-called ping does serve a purpose and it has served a huge purpose as we have been dealing with this pandemic, particularly during the last wave.

"If someone is pinged, it might be very useful information to them if they were planning in the days ahead to visit a vulnerable person, perhaps a grandparent or someone, so I think it is valuable information to give people.

"But as I said earlier, I think we can look at the approach and make it more measured, given the high rate of vaccination, and then also, as he suggested, make more use of tests, which is exactly what we are doing."

He also reminded MPs that from August 16, people who have been fully vaccinated and under 18s will not need to self isolate if they come into close contact with someone with Covid-19.

It comes after transport secretary Grant Shapps said the sensitivity of the app, which has been downloaded more than 25m times, is being kept under “constant review” and it could be tweaked after social distancing restrictions are lifted on July 19.

Downing Street has asked people to continue using the app, with the Prime Minister’s official spokesman saying Boris Johnson is doing so.

The Government is also urging the owners of nightclubs and music venues to ask all customers to prove they have been fully vaccinated or tested negative, by showing a Covid Pass on the NHS app, when they reopen on July 19.