• Saturday, March 25, 2023


Making NHS Covid app ‘less sensitive’ is like ‘taking batteries out of smoke alarm’: Starmer

An illustration picture shows a smartphone screen displaying a Covid-19 vaccine record on the National Health Service (NHS) app (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS / AFP) (Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images)

By: Pooja Shrivastava

REDUCING the sensitivity of the NHS Covid app to cut the number of people self-isolating is like “taking the batteries out of the smoke alarm”, Labour party leader Keir Starmer has said over the reports that the government is planning to tune the NHS Covid app to make it “less sensitive”. 

Admitting that he had been alarmed by reports that ministers had decided to “tune” the app, Karmer has accused that the move is to “weaken the defences that we have”.

“It’s like taking the batteries out of the smoke alarm: it is so obviously to weaken the defences that we have – and if the consequence of the prime minister’s decision is that people are deleting the NHS app, or the app is being weakened, then that’s a pretty good indicator that the decision of the prime minister is wrong,” he said.

Jenny Harries, the head of the new UK Health Security Agency, signalled the move after new figures showed that the number of people “pinged” by the smartphone app had soared by more than 60 per cent in a week leading to reports that some Britons are deleting it from their smartphones to avoid being forced into home isolation.

As the new Delta variant of the virus ripped through the country, a total of 356,036 alerts were reportedly sent to users of the app in the week to June 30, telling them they had been in close contact with someone who had tested positive for coronavirus.

As the country is headed towards end of all the restrictions on July 19, the infection numbers are expected to rise- with experts claiming that it may touch 100, 000 a day-, it is being reported that millions of people could be “pinged” and ordered to self-isolate by Test and Trace in the summer.

The news of NHS covid app set to be “tuned” to make it less sensitive, however, is receiving a mixed response on the social media.

“The NHS Covid-19 App is telling people to self isolate (like it’s meant to), so the Tories are going to make it less sensitive….like themselves,” tweeted one user.

“Ministers decide to make app less sensitive amid fears millions will have to stay home over next month. The fire alarm’s too loud. We could put the flames out? No, just flick the alarm off.”

Eastern Eye

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