NHS Pingdemic Scares Almost Half of Britons Away from Socialising: Poll

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Almost half of Britons are avoiding social contact to reduce the chance of being caught up in the ‘pingdemic’ and asked to self-isolate, a poll has revealed.

The NHS Covid App alerts users if they have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for the Chinese coronavirus and recommends self-isolating for up to ten days.

While using the app and quarantining are both recommended and not mandated by law — unlike orders to self-isolate by the NHS’s Test and Trace unit — it has forced changes of behaviour of 46 per cent of Britons, who have reduced contact with others to avoid being pinged.

According to a YouGov poll conducted by The Times and published on Monday, just 36 per cent have said they have not changed their social patterns.

This is not the first time that pandemic has been shown to have significantly affected how Britons interact with one another. A Demos poll published last week found that one-third of Britons have not been hugged in six months, with one-quarter saying they have not felt the embrace of another human being in a year. Sixty-four per cent said they had not made any new friends in six months or more.

A poll from last month, before most restrictions were lifted, found that eight in ten Britons were experiencing some form of nerves over the prospect of the end of lockdown.

From August 16th, anyone who has been vaccinated against the Chinese virus will not have to isolate but will be advised to take daily tests. Those who have not been vaccinated will still be expected to quarantine if the app has told them to do so.

However, until that time and faced with the prospect of businesses having to temporarily close in the face of mass staff shortages during the pingdemic, with nearly 700,000 told to self-isolate in the week to July 21st, some employers were told by government ministers that the app was only an “advisory tool” and there was no “legal duty” to isolate. One large employer in Britain reportedly told staff to ignore the app if a PCR test is negative.

The government appeared pleased at the high number of people self-isolating because an app told them to, and remarking on the control exerted over Britons, a government spokeswoman told The Times: “The self-isolation rules are doing exactly what they are designed to do — minimising the contacts of people who have been exposed to Covid-19, so we can protect the population while we continue to roll out the vaccine.

“By sticking to the rules, the public are playing a vital role in reducing the spread of the virus and preventing cases from becoming outbreaks. This enables the NHS to vaccinate as many people as possible ahead of August 16th, and we continue to encourage everyone to come forward to get their jab.”

A new report from recruitment website Adzuna revealed that more than 1.1 million roles have remained vacant for 11 straight weeks for reasons including workers self-isolating due to the pingdemic, reluctance to return to work, or staff remaining furloughed. Those vacant roles include 31,000 in retail, 10,000 in supermarkets, 77,000 in hospitality and catering, and 84,000 in warehouses and logistics.

Brexit leader Nigel Farage remarked last month that because of the pingdemic, “far from opening up, we’re actually beginning a process of lockdown down. If we go on at this rate, goodness knows where we’ll be.”

“Is it time to scrap the app?” Mr Farage said. “I think it really is… I think the app is now doing more harm than good.”

The NHS Covid App has not remained popular with everyone, however, with a YouGov poll from late last month finding that 52 per cent of young Britons who had downloaded the app had either deleted it, avoided checking in when they should have, or switched it off.

Young Britons have also started ditching the masks in the week following the end of the legal mandate to wear them in public enclosed spaces.

The government has been targeting the younger demographic, coercing them into being vaccinated by threatening to ban entry to venues like nightclubs except for only the fully vaccinated from late September.

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