By Aryaman Bhatia, Science and Tech editor, The Pawprint
Between the 16th and 22nd of December, 698,646 “pings” were sent to people in England and Wales. This is nearly 8,000 more than the previous record of 690,711 messages sent in a seven-day period in July.
Data for the Christmas holiday season is not yet available. People who are “pinged” by the app with a “close contact” alert are advised to take daily Covid tests – or self-isolate if unvaccinated and over the age of 18 – to reduce the likelihood of Covid transmission, but there is no legal requirement for them to do so.
During the summer, the app caused concern when a large number of workers in various industries received pings, rendering them temporarily unable to perform their jobs while they were isolated.
According to a poll conducted at the time, one-third of 18-34-year-olds had deleted the app, with another third intending to do so. Some Twitter users have recently complained about receiving an alert more than a week after being exposed to someone using Covid, reducing the utility of the service.
The UK Health Security Agency did not respond to a request for comment on this matter from the BBC. “The NHS Covid-19 app has prevented thousands of cases and is a vital tool to help protect against the spread of Covid-19 by alerting people when they may have been in contact with a confirmed case,” a spokesperson said.
“The app is an important part of the pandemic response… we encourage everyone to keep using it as another tool to keep us all safe.”
People can also use the NHS app to report the results of a Covid test. Positive test result reports also reached a new high – 243,406 in England and Wales during the same seven-day period ending on December 22.
Not everyone who gets a positive result uses the app or uploads their results.
Official data show that the number of positive cases in the UK has reached an all-time high in recent days, with 189,213 added on the 30th of December alone.
In Scotland and Northern Ireland, separate contact-tracing apps are used. According to the Scotland data, a record number of contact notifications were sent via the Protect Scotland app during the period.