Sandhurst cadets are being "encouraged" to delete the NHS Covid app amid fears over training being hit by the "pingdemic".

Officer Cadets at the Royal Military Academy have been "encouraged" to either turn off Bluetooth or remove the app to prevent a situation in which they are forced into self-isolation, defence sources said.

In messages seen by The Telegraph, the cadets say instructors have told them to "do everything possible to avoid being pinged" and that deleting the app has been "alluded to". 

One senior defence source said he was aware that "it’s definitely happening" at Sandhurst, adding: "It’s some frontline units. Some standby units, etc.

"I’ve heard they’ve got a real problem with general Covid security, because on the one hand they are trying to keep Covid-secure bubbles but on the other hand some of the staff commute every day or come in from the family patch – and Covid doesn’t really care about that, obviously."

The source also warned of the long-term effect the disruption caused by the pingdemic will have on the academy, adding: "It breaks down teams, and it breaks down skills which is really difficult to replace in the Army. 

"So if you’ve got someone who’s quite highly qualified and competent in a skill, and they get pinged, that can take out a whole capability." 

However, some defence sources sought to clarify the academy’s position, setting out that Officer Cadets still operated in platoon – family – bubbles and have been gated within the Academy the entire term. They said Sandhurst adhered to "all Government and public health direction". 

Tobias Ellwood, the chairman of the defence select committee, said: "Sandhurst needs to be included in the exemption list immediately, and that goes for the wider Armed Forces. 

"The entire Armed Forces should be on the exemption list in order to avoid the very problems Sandhurst is experiencing. This is exactly what is happening up and down the country, where individual businesses and units are finding their own way around the system because it’s too crude a mechanism with which to fight the pandemic.

"This blunt instrument of an app is clearly not working as originally intended. It’s absolutely wrong to detain cadets from returning home on their weekends simply to avoid getting pinged. That is not the way Sandhurst should be operating."