The pingdemic is FINALLY axed: Double-jabbed people no longer have to isolate if they come into contact with a Covid carried as Sajid Javid calls for ‘cautious’ return to normality
Sajid Javid called for a ‘cautious’ return to normality last night as the self-isolation rules that sparked the ‘pingdemic’ were finally relaxed.
From today, those who have been double-jabbed and under-18s will no longer be required to isolate for ten days if they are ‘pinged’ by the NHS app or contacted by the Test and Trace service.
It is one of the biggest steps the country has taken on the road back to normality. The Health Secretary said the successful vaccine rollout has allowed the Government to ease rules that have forced millions to quarantine at home, devastating businesses and schools.
However, Mr Javid and other health experts continued to urge caution last night.
Sajid Javid called for a ‘cautious’ return to normality last night as the self-isolation rules that sparked the ‘pingdemic’ were finally relaxed
From today, those who have been double-jabbed and under-18s will no longer be required to isolate for ten days if they are ‘pinged’ by the NHS app or contacted by the Test and Trace service
How have the requirements changed?
As of today, the double-jabbed and under-18s are no longer legally required to isolate for ten days if they come into close contact with someone who has Covid
Instead, they will be ‘advised’ by the NHS Covid-19 app to take a free PCR test
And if the PCR test comes back positive, they will have to quarantine at home for ten days
The exemption applies to those who received their second dose at least 14 days before coming into contact with a positive case
Fully vaccinated adults who were recently ‘pinged’ can leave isolation early today
Anyone who can show they cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons is also eligible to escape from quarantine
He said: ‘The British public have played a vital role following self-isolation rules throughout the pandemic and sacrificing so much to help bring the virus under control.
‘The requirement for double-jabbed and under-18s who are contacts of people with Covid-19 has been removed as we cautiously take another step back towards normality, thanks to the success of our vaccine rollout.’
Yesterday, 26,750 coronavirus cases were recorded as well as another 61 deaths within 28 days of a positive test.
It comes as scientists warned that as the double-vaccinated can still catch and pass on Covid, today’s relaxation of the rules will inevitably lead to more infections.
Professor Lawrence Young, of Warwick Medical School, said: ‘It is important to recognise that the virus is still circulating in the population and that the more infectious Delta variant has changed the equation.’
And Dr Peter English, former chairman of the BMA public health medicine committee, said there will now be more infections in under-18s and added: ‘Given that we do not yet fully understand the long-term consequences of Covid-19 infection, this is a huge gamble.’
The NHS app was launched in September last year and it tells users if their smartphones have been near someone who has tested positive for Covid. But as lockdown eased and the Delta variant spread, the app led to the chaos that was dubbed the pingdemic.
In the week to July 21, a record 689,313 people in England and Wales were told to isolate.
The pingdemic caused such huge staff shortages – leading to empty shop shelves and cancelled trains – that the Government had to exempt key workers from the rules, including those in the food industry and working on public transport.
Under huge pressure, ministers then announced that the legal requirement to isolate would be removed for under-18s and adults who have had both doses of the Covid vaccine. From today, double-jabbed app users identified as close contacts of someone with Covid will be advised to take a free NHS PCR test – and they must isolate if that comes back positive.
Hannah Essex, of the British Chambers of Commerce, said many businesses will be ‘relieved’ about the change to the rules.
But Dr Louise Soanes, of the charity Teenage Cancer Trust, said vulnerable youngsters are ‘at greater risk of serious illness if they get the virus’ and those who are double-vaccinated should still take precautions if they are pinged.