Covid test and trace app to be made 'less sensitive'

A screenshot of the coronavirus contact tracing app which is launching across England and Wales in w

Changes could be made to the Covid-19 tracking app to look at its "sensitivity". - Credit: PA

Changes could be made to the Covid-19 tracking app to look at its "sensitivity".

The NHS Covid contact tracing app could be made less sensitive to help reduce the number of people asked to self-isolate.

The app allows people who test positive to share their test result anonymously which triggers alerts to people who have been in close contact via text, email or phone call.

Currently people who receive these alerts are advised to self-isolate for 10 days, even if they have no symptoms.

If people record negative tests, they still have to complete the full 10 days.


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Dr Jenny Harries, head of the UK Health Security Agency, hinted at a change in the system to MPs on Thursday.

She said there they were looking at the sensitivity of the app and that there was work taking place because it was "entirely possible to tune the app to ensure that is is appropriate to the risk."

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Speaking to Sky News, Rishi Sunak said: "Most people's concerns rest with how the app is working and the health secretary is aware of that.

"The app counts for the majority of people who need to isolate and he is looking at what the most appropriate and balanced approach to what isolation is in these circumstances."

There have been growing calls for the government to shift to a testing system which monitors whether staff are still negative, so they can keep working.

Paul Hunter, professor in medicine at the University of East Anglia, said, test and trace should end or be amended if restrictions end on July 19.

Prof Paul Hunter of the UEA's Norwich medical school. Photo: Bill Smith

Prof Paul Hunter of the UEA's Norwich medical school. Photo: Bill Smith - Credit: Archant © 2013

He said: "The virus is not going away. It's here to stay, but the way we have got vaccines rolled out, we are in the best possible position we have been.

"After July 19, I'd not do any isolation of school children or be closing restaurants. I'm not even sure I would isolate contacts, although I would still isolate people with symptoms."

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