A record 689,313 alerts were sent to users of the NHS COVID-19 app in England and Wales in a week, new figures show.
The alerts have been issued as NHS Test and Trace figures showed nearly 600,000 people were identified as coming into close contact with someone who had tested positive in the week up to 21 July.
The combined figures mean more than a million people may been told to self-isolate during this week-long period.
Ping alerts tell people they have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus.
The latest number was recorded in the week up to 21 July and is an 11.4% increase on the week before.
The previous week’s numbers showed 618,903 people were pinged by the app.
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Businesses in all sectors have complained that they are struggling to maintain operations when so many staff have been told to stay at home to break the transmission.
The car industry has joined calls for the government to bring forward the date for exempting fully-vaccinated adults from self-isolation rules.
It comes after a slump in production blamed on the so-called “pingdemic”.
Stock levels in relation to expected sales across the distribution sector reached a new record low this month, according to a key business survey.
Retailers are fretting over supplies and staffing as a result of the number of people being pinged.
The government has set a date of 16 August for when fully vaccinated people no longer have to self-isolate after coming into contact with someone who test positive.
Asked if there was any scope to bring this date forward, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said on Thursday: “It’s important to appreciate that where people are being pinged, it’s because we did see that ramp up in the number of people who were showing positive for coronavirus.
“We’re seeing that starting to come down in the last week or so, of course it stand to reason therefore fewer people will automatically be pinged.
“But in terms of that date… we already have a number of schemes in place, particularly in the critical infrastructure like transport for example, delivery of food to supermarkets where people are able to join those schemes instead.”
This week the government said it was expanding its daily contact testing for frontline sectors who are exempt from isolation.
Raab ‘confident’ more countries set for green list
A total of 2,000 sites across the country are available for people working in prisons, waste collection, defence, the food industry, transport, Border Force and police and fire services.
Daily negative test results will enable eligible workers who have been alerted by the NHS COVID-19 app or called by NHS Test and Trace as coronavirus contacts to continue working.
The number of alerts has been reported as the latest NHS Test and Trace figures show a total of 307,758 were confirmed to have coronavirus at least once in the week to 21 July.
597,260 people were identified as coming into close contact with someone who had tested positive, government figures show.
This is the highest number recorded since 13 January.
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Meanwhile, the government has said it is “increasingly confident” more countries will soon be added to the amber and green travel lists.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said he believes opportunities for international travel can in the near future be opened up further as “the momentum forward is positive”.
Mr Raab also did not rule out the possibility of popular holiday hotspot Spain moving to a different category in the government’s traffic light travel system at the next review point a week on Thursday.
Professor Rowland Kao, who sits on the government scientific advisory committee SAGE, told Sky News on Thursday that allowing vaccinated people into the country increases the chance certain variants will spread.
He said: “We are in a very nuanced position right now where we have that mix of a large number of vaccinated people, and a large number of people getting infected, which makes it extremely much more likely that these variants will occur.
“And if they occur, and if we’re allowing vaccinated people in the country under those conditions, it increases the chance that those variants will spread within Great Britain.
“And when that we also have the problem that because infection numbers are so high right now, we don’t actually have the tools in place so that we can rapidly identify where those variants might be.”