Steerpike Steerpike

Isolation stats delayed as statisticians forced to isolate

Leon Neal/Getty Images

A spectre is haunting Britain: the spectre of the ‘pingdemic.’ With Covid cases on the uptick, it is no surprise that more than 500,000 people in England and Wales were ‘pinged’ by the NHS test and trace app in the week to 7 July, up 46 per cent on the previous week. 

Iceland and Greene King are among the latest businesses forced to close sites as workers are told to self-isolate. The Metropolitan Line in London was forced to shut over the weekend due to enforced absences while the Nissan factory in Sunderland has sent home more than 900 staff – more than 10 per cent of its workforce.

Now it seems not even the government’s best brains are immune from the curse. An effort by the Adam Smith Institute to find out on Friday how many people are currently self-isolating from the Office for National Statistics ran into difficulties when the official ‘Business impact of COVID-19 survey’ email came back with an unfortunate message: ‘Off work due to self-isolating because of Covid-19.’


Fortunately the Westminster think tank was in fact able to work out its own figures, which projects 1.73 million people are currently isolating after being pinged by the app or contacted by a test and trace service across the whole of the UK. Based on the current case trajectory, it projects that as many as 5.2 million people could be forced to isolate by the app and test and trace by mid-August, with 5.8 million thought to have been told to self-isolate since the beginning of May.

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