Pingdemic over? NHS test and trace app use continues to plummet

NHS Covid app code in cafe

Use of the the NHS Covid app in Norfolk has more than halved in the space of a week. - Credit: Getty Images

The pandemic may be far from over, but new figures have revealed further evidence that the era of the 'pingdemic' may soon be behind us.

For the second consecutive week, the number of check-ins completed by people visiting bars and restaurants in Norfolk has plummeted, as people prepare for changes to the rules around it.

And likewise, the number of alerts received by people requiring them to self-isolate has taken a slide.

According to the most recent data, for the weekend ending August 4, 46,658 people completed check-ins while out and about in Norfolk.

But while this number in isolation sounds significant, it is a decrease of more than 20,000 on the week before - which had already more than halved for the week prior to that.

And when compared against the figures of a month earlier, it shows almost an 80pc decrease - with 215,013 people completing check-ins over the week ending July 14.

Kevin Tyler, from the Norwich Medical School at the UEA, said that the app ceasing to be mandatory had likely contributed to the downturn in use of it - along with impending rule changes.

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Dr Tyler said: "You can see people have just voted with their feet and chosen to stop using it - using it wasn't mandatory anyway.

"The government rule from August 16 was that if you were fully vaccinated or under 18 that there is no need to self-isolate after close contact with someone who has Covid-19, so I suspect most in these categories and some who were not upon reading that will have felt there was little point in continuing to use it."

The figures also show a slide in the number of people receiving alerts from the app, which has been on a gradual decline since the week ending July 21.

Over the week ending July 21, 9,958 people were "pinged" by the app. The most recent figures show 5,765 "pings" for the week ending August 4.

In recent weeks, the so-called "pingdemic" has caused a host of issues for local businesses, particularly in the hospitality sector where workers isolating has led to some temporary closures. 

However Louise Smith, Norfolk's director of public health, has previous urged people to persist with using it.