A ‘close contact’ now includes 15 minutes’ cumulative contact in a single day (Image: PA)

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The definition of a "close contact" with someone who has coronavirus has been quietly tightened up by the Test and Trace service.

Government guidance on Test and Trace was changed overnight to include 15 minutes' total cumulative contact in a single day.

Previously, a close contact was defined as "spending more than 15 minutes within 2 metres of someone".

Now, it is defined as "having been within 2 metres of someone for more than 15 minutes (either as a one-off contact, or added up together over one day)".

A log of updates confirmed "the time is now cumulative", rather than being 15 minutes in one session.

No10 was unable to immediately say if the app would still detect 'cumulative' contact
(Image: Adam Gerrard / Daily Mirror)

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It suggests more sufferers' close contacts will be asked to self-isolate for 10 days by the part-privatised NHS Test and Trace service, a large part of which is run by Serco and Sitel.

The change has not been widely advertised.

No10 could not immediately confirm if the NHS Covid-19 app will be able to detect such cumulative contact to alert people.

The app works through collecting "broadcast codes" which refresh every 15 minutes to detect people's close contacts through Bluetooth.

Staff make preparations ahead of the opening of a NHS mass vaccination
(Image: PA)

The Prime Minister's official spokesman told journalists: “The Test and Trace app monitors those who you are in and around – the specific detailed technical specifications I’m not aware of.”

He also could not say if the change was due to the new strain of coronavirus, which is 50% to 70% more transmissible.

The spokesman added: “We’ve always kept the scientific data and evidence under constant review.

"It remains the case the driver of transmission is person to person contact and transmission of the virus through aerosol.

"The fact people are in close proximity obviously increases that risk."

He went on: “We’ve been clear throughout the pandemic that we’ve been asking people to keep contact to an absolute minimum.”