The U.K.’s economy could face a loss of more than 4.6 billion pounds ($6.3 billion) in just four weeks if rules on self-isolation following a “ping” from the NHS app aren’t relaxed, according to data from Centre for Economics and Business Research.
Since July 19 “freedom day,” the surge of Covid cases in the U.K. implies that an increasing number of people will need to self-isolate after being contacted by the NHS app, triggering disruption in supply chains. Figures released this week from the NHS track-and-trace app, covering the period from July 8-14, show a record 607,486 self-isolation pings were sent within a week in England.
The government may need to speed up its overhaul of the NHS App, as exemptions introduced for key workers would reduce the overall cost by only 300 million pounds over the period, CEBR said, whereas more than half could be saved by relaxing isolation for those who have had their second vaccination by at least two weeks, they added.
Britain’s economy already showed signs of slowing in July as euphoria following the easing of coronavirus restrictions eased and a resurgence of the coronavirus caused widespread staff shortages. An index based on a survey of purchasing managers by IHS Markit fell unexpectedly to its lowest since March.
Meanwhile, London Mayor Sadiq Khan urged Boris Johnson’s government to relax isolation rules for vaccinated people who come into contact with a Covid-19 case, with the U.K. capital facing major disruption.
Politicians and scientists are now concerned that people are deleting the official Covid-19 mobile phone app, or at least switching off its tracing function, to avoid having to self-isolate.