Millions of Brits face being pinged by the NHS Covid-19 app (Image: Getty Images)
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Millions of Brits a week face being forced into self-isolation before August 16 as ministers brace for an explosion in cases.
The number of people in England 'pinged' by the NHS Covid-19 app – told to isolate after contact with a positive case – rose from 16,000 a week at the end of May to 219,000 a week at the end of June.
The number of legal orders to isolate from Test and Trace officials also rose from 42,323 to 154,998 in the same period.
These figures suggest almost three people are now being pinged by the NHS Covid-19 app for every one person who tests positive.
Tory minister Kwasi Kwarteng today played down fears of mass isolation, saying: "I don't think you can necessarily conclude there'll be millions".
Yet his colleague, Health Secretary Sajid Javid, has already admitted 50,000 people a day may be testing positive by July 19 and 100,000 a day by August 16, when self-isolation rules change.
Official figures show the number of app 'pings' from the Covid-19 app is soaring as cases rise
If there are 700,000 cases a week, that would suggest around 2million people a week could be pinged by the app.
The numbers could fuel fears that people will simply disable the app so as not to have their lives disrupted – spreading the virus further.
The isolation itself could also have a colossal impact on people's jobs, holidays and the economy before quarantine is axed for double-jabbed contacts of Covid cases on August 16.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid yesterday announced double-jabbed adults, and all under-18s, will only have to isolate if they test positive themselves from mid-August onwards.
But Kate Nicholls, chief of trade group UK Hospitality, told the Financial Times the isolation policy was causing “carnage”.
She added: “Around 60% of our staff are aged between 15-34 and the vast majority will not have had the opportunity to receive both jabs by August 16."
Tories accused of herd immunity as end to self-isolation delayed to get more jabbed
Plan to scrap travel quarantine for double-jabbed expected on Thursday
Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng today insisted the government had to balance the economy and health, after reports Boris Johnson ditched face mask laws because they would cost the economy £4bn.
SAGE warned "baseline" Covid restrictions are likely to be needed, adding: "There will be a trade-off to be considered between the stringency of measures in place and the likelihood of having to reverse parts of the Roadmap."
But despite the PM previously promising an "irreversible" unlock based on "data not dates", Mr Kwarteng said: "If we don’t reopen fully on July 19 the implications of that would be to simply delay all of this to perhaps September and the winter, when things will become more difficult.
"So it’s a balancing act, we have to decide what to do, and I think this is the best course of action."
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Despite saying the economy must open up, Mr Kwarteng said it was "not beyond the imagination" that long Covid cases could hit 5,000 a day.
England's Chief Medical Officer warned long Covid "remains a worry" in a speech to the Local Government Association conference.
Chris Whitty said: "Since there's a lot of Covid at the moment and the rates are going up, I regret to say I think we will get a significant amount more long Covid particularly in the younger ages where the vaccination rates are currently much lower.
"Fundamentally the two ways to prevent long Covid in my view are to keep Covid rates right down and make sure everyone is vaccinated so they get very mild disease."