July 23, 2021 9.53 am This story is over 34 months old

It’s ‘wrong’ to think we don’t need NHS COVID app, says health chief

Lincolnshire MP admitted to not installing it

Anyone who thinks we are out of the pandemic and don’t need the NHS Covid app is ‘wrong’,  Lincolnshire’s health chief has said.

Lincolnshire’s director of public health, Derek Ward, said everyone “will make their own choices” and that it wasn’t a statutory duty.

However, he pointed out that case numbers were now higher than the first two waves, that Lincolnshire had seen three deaths in the past seven days and that there were currently around 20 people in hospital with the virus.

Yesterday 84 people were reported to have died within 28 days of a COVID positive test.

“If anybody thinks we’re out of this, they are quite clearly wrong,” said Professor Ward.

He pointed to research that was showing Delta had a 50:50 chance of being passed on asymptomatically, rather than the previous one-in-three chance.

He also noted that despite passing 1,000,000 vaccination doses, the county still had three out of 10 people who were not double-jabbed.

“The sooner and the more we do to keep on top of it, get the numbers down to normal, then we can all delete the app because we won’t need any more, but at the moment, we need it.

“People should keep it on, and they should follow the advice.”

Lincoln MP Karl McCartney. | Photo: Daniel Jaines

On Thursday, Lincoln MP Karl McCartney – who has gone against his party in its COVID pandemic plans several times – boasted of never downloading the app and said he was no longer wearing a mask.

He told BBC Radio Lincolnshire: “I don’t think people are retaining it on their phones if they even had it in the first place, and I think its days are numbered. I haven’t got it and never had it.”

He also said he would be voting against the idea of COVID passports being used for access to nightclubs or crowded places.

But Professor Ward said: “Obviously, MPs are elected by the people that they serve and they need to vote the way that they think but the government have already said this is coming in, so it’s a really good reason for our younger people who maybe aren’t aren’t too bothered about getting the vaccine to get the vaccine so that they can protect themselves and everybody and go clubbing and go into other events, music events, etc.”

Karl McCartney’s admission came during the ‘pingdemic’ which has seen the NHS COVID-19 app send more than 600,000 self-isolation alerts between July 8 and 15, a 17% rise from the previous week.

Businesses say the app is causing staff shortages.

Self-isolation is due to come to an end for fully vaccinated people from August 16.

The NHS app alert is only advisory, whereas a phone call from NHS Test and Trace makes self-isolation enforceable by law.

Lincolnshire’s coronavirus cases up to July 22.

Professor Ward said data showed signs of a possible ‘topping out’ or plateauing right now, with Lincolnshire’s infection rate of 353 per 100,000 sitting below the national average of 530.

With schools breaking up, it is hoped some transmission chains will be broken.

However, bosses are also expecting to see the results of events such as the Euros finals in the coming days, and this weekend is the first one after COVID restrictions were lifted, so they’ll be keeping a close eye out.

“I’d be quite happy if it rained [this weekend],” said Professor Ward, hinting that it might stop people going out and mixing too much.

However, he added: “The problem with that is people will mix more indoors.”

He urged people to get vaccinated and to continue to follow the social distancing guidelines.