Coronavirus UK news: Shoppers urged not to panic buy as Covid NHS app 'pingdemic' forces 618,903 to self-isolate

SUPERMARKETS say there's just 48 hours to fix the pingdemic or shoppers will face empty shelves, with stores already running out of staples such as beer and bread.

Huge numbers of staff have had to self-isolate after being pinged by the NHS Covid app, which has hit supplies – while The PM again refused to change the app’s system.

The crisis is hitting supermarkets’ opening hours and starting to cause gaps in fresh meat, salad, bottled drinks and freezer sections.

There was a shortage of fresh fruit and veg, fridge food, water, beer and kitchen roll at a Tesco in Cambridge, while nearby Asda ran short of bread and greens.

Figures released on Wednesday revealed how up to a million people — double the week before — have been forced off work.

Read our coronavirus live blog for the very latest updates…

  • Joseph Gamp

    TOO EARLY TO SAY IF COVID-19 NUMBERS ARE LEVELLING OFF, WARN EXPERTS

    The apparent fall in Covid-19 case numbers may be temporary ahead of a return to exponential growth, experts have warned. By 9am on Thursday, there had been a further 39,906 lab-confirmed Covid-19 cases in the UK – down from 44,104 at the same time on Wednesday.

    A further 84 people had died within 28 days of testing positive as of Thursday, up from 73 on Wednesday. Paul Hunter, professor in medicine at the Norwich School of Medicine, University of East Anglia, said Thursday was the first time reported case numbers had been lower than the same day the previous week since early May.

    "They represent a 18% drop. Also the week-on-week percentage increase in cases has fallen from a peak of 43% last Sunday to just 24% today.

    "But it is still too early to see any impact of the relaxations of Monday 19 and some of the reduction in cases will be because of many children no longer being tested as regularly now schools are closed.

    "I would caution that this may just be a temporary slowing in reports before we start to see a return to exponential growth towards the end of next week as a result of the ending of restrictions last week," he said.

  • Joseph Gamp

    TOKYO HITS SIX-MONTH CASES HIGH THE DAY BEFORE THE OLYMPIC OPENING CEREMONY

    Tokyo has hit another six-month high in new coronavirus cases, one day before the Olympics.

    The 1,979 new cases Thursday are the highest since 2,044 were recorded on Jan. 15.

    Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and the International Olympic Committee have been determined to hold the Olympics despite the pandemic. Suga placed Tokyo under a state of emergency on July 12, but daily cases have sharply risen.

    Spectators are banned from all Olympic venues in the Tokyo area, with limited audiences allowed at a few outlying sites.

    The emergency measures, which largely involve a ban on alcohol sales and shorter hours for restaurants and bars, are to last until Aug. 22, after the Olympics end on Aug. 8.

  • Joseph Gamp

    WHICH ESSENTIAL WORKERS CAN AVOID SELF-ISOLATION?

    Double jabbed workers who can avoid self-isolating if pinged:

    • Railway signallers
    • Air traffic controllers
    • NHS staff
    • Care home workers
    • Food production workers
    • Train drivers
    • Medicine manufacturers
    • Border security guards
    • Water and electricity supply workers
    • Joseph Gamp

      RECORD NUMBER TOLD TO ISOLATE BY COVID-19 APP AS RETAILERS WARN OF DISRUPTION

      A record number of people were told to isolate by the NHS Covid-19 app when more than 600,000 alerts were sent to users in a week, figures suggested, as retailers warned of disruption.

      Former health secretary Jeremy Hunt said the Government risks "losing social consent" for isolation if it does not immediately bring forward the relaxation of quarantine rules for the fully vaccinated.

      Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng told shoppers not to panic in the face of supermarket shortages and attempted to ease concerns over the "pingdemic" as Covid-19 cases soar.

      He said a "very narrow" list of sectors whose workers will be exempt from isolation rules would be published later on Thursday, but Downing Street later suggested it would instead be "examples of the sectors where exemptions could apply".

      Warnings of staffing shortages mounted as NHS figures showed 618,903 alerts were sent to users of the coronavirus app in England and Wales in the week to July 14, telling them they had been in close contact with someone who had tested positive for coronavirus

    • Joseph Gamp

      TORIES THREATEN TO BOYCOTT PARTY CONFERENCE OVER VACCINE PASSPORTS

      Conservative MPs have threatened to boycott the Tory party conference if coronavirus vaccine passports are required for entry.

      Former minister Steve Baker was among those to say they would not attend the event in October over their outrage that jabs could become mandatory to access crowded venues.

      Conservative rebels are planning to ally with Labour to defeat the plan to make full vaccination a requirement of entry for clubs and venues with large crowds from the end of September.

      With at least 42 Tory MPs having signalled they would not vote in favour of vaccine passports, the Government faces the real prospect of a Commons defeat.

      But regardless of whether they are required by law, the party looks likely to insist they are used at the conference in Manchester in order to set an example

    • Joseph Gamp

      HEALTH LEADERS URGE PREGNANT WOMEN TO GET COVID-19 VACCINE

      Health leaders are urging pregnant women to get a Covid-19 vaccine after figures suggested only around one in 10 may have had a first dose.

      The data, from Public Health England (PHE) shows for the first time that 51,724 pregnant women in England under the age of 50 have received at least one dose of a jab since mid-April.

      The figure is likely to be at least 4,000 higher when taking into account the numbers who have already had a vaccine because they are clinically vulnerable or because they are a health or social care worker.

      Nevertheless, leaders say they want more women to come forward, with 95% of pregnant women in hospital last week with Covid-19 being unvaccinated.

      Pregnant women are eligible for the Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna vaccines, with studies in the US showing no safety concerns among more than 130,000 pregnant women given those doses.

    • Joseph Gamp

      DOMINIC CUMMINGS CLAIMS HE TRIED TO OUT BORIS JOHNSON BECAUSE HE ‘DIDN’T HAVE A PLAN’

      Cummings claimed he tried to out the PM because he “didn’t have a plan.”

      He said:“I had a plan, I was trying to get things done, he didn’t have a plan… he didn’t have an agenda, you know the Prime Minister’s only agenda is buy more trains, buy more buses, have more bikes and build the world’s most stupid tunnel to Ireland, that’s it.”

      The BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg asked him if it made him a “treacherous” person for plotting against the PM, to which he replied: “In some ways yes.”

    • Joseph Gamp

      ‘GET OUT CLAUSE’

      Speaking during a visit to Scotland, Ms Reeves said: “Keir Starmer is self-isolating and unlike the Prime Minister he self-isolated as soon as he was told he had to.

      “He did not try to find a get-out clause like the Prime Minister did.

      “I wish our Prime Minister and our Chancellor were more focused on ensuring our essential public services and our supermarkets can keep going rather than trying to help themselves get to PMQs in the Houses of Parliament.”

    • Joseph Gamp

      US WARNS TRAVELLERS AGAINST HEADING TO THE UK OVER ‘VERY HIGH’ COVID CASES

      American citizens have been warned against travel to the UK over spiralling coronavirus cases.

      The UK was placed on the highest level of the United States travel guidance – “Level 4: Very High” – on Monday, warning that even fully-vaccinated travellers could be at risk.

      The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention issued the update on the day Prime Minister Boris Johnson ended mask-wearing and social distancing laws, while reopening nightclubs.

      Americans were told to “avoid travel to the United Kingdom” but advised to make sure they are fully vaccinated if travel is essential.

      “Because of the current situation in the United Kingdom, even fully vaccinated travellers may be at risk for getting and spreading Covid-19 variants,” the guidance added.

    • Joseph Gamp

      MAPPED: ROYAL MAIL ‘PINGDEMIC’ DELIVERY CHAOS AREAS

      Deliveries of letters and packages have been disrupted after a wave of postal staff have been forced into Covid self-isolation.

      Royal Mail service alerts were issued for eight locations alone over the weekend, from Bath to Blackpool, the Sun can reveal.

    • Joseph Gamp

      DOUBLE JABBED BRITS COULD MISS OUT ON GOING ABROAD DUE TO NHS MISTAKES

      Double-jabbed Brits could miss out on overseas holidays because NHS mistakes mean their second vaccinations may not be recorded properly.

      An investigation found that many of those who have had two doses of a Covid jab do not have any official proof on the NHS app, the Telegraph reported.

      Currently, many holiday destinations need proof of vaccinations to allow entry or to avoid quarantine.

      But health officials have warned vaccine staff could make the mistake of not filling in fields in documents correctly or failing to properly “save” jab data.

      They have told anyone who has had their second jab recorded incorrectly to get in touch with their GP.

    • Joseph Gamp

      THIRD OF YOUNG ADULTS IN ENGLAND STILL WITHOUT FIRST DOSE OF COVID-19 VACCINE

      A third of young adults in England have still not had a first dose of Covid-19 vaccine, new figures show. Some 66.4% of people aged 18 to 29 had received a first dose as of July 18, according to estimates from NHS England – meaning 33.6% are likely to be unjabbed.

      This is the equivalent of around 2.9 million adults under 30.

      A breakdown of this age group by gender shows vaccine take-up continues to be lower among males than females. An estimated 71.9% of women aged 25 to 29 have had a first dose, compared with only 65.0% of men.

      And among 18-24 year-olds, while 68.2% of women are estimated to have received one dose, only 60.0% of men have done so.

      All adults in England have been able to book a first dose since June 17 – more than a month before the latest snapshot of vaccinations by age.

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      WATCH: WORLD RISKS "GOING BACK TO SQUARE ONE" IF WEALTHY COUNTRIES DO NOT HELP POORER COUNTRIES GET VACCINATED

      World faces going ‘back to square one’ Covid spread spawns variants deadlier than Delta, WHO warns

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      HOW MUCH DO NURSES EARN?

      The Royal College of Nursing estimates that the average annual salary of an NHS Nurse is £33,384.

      However, nurses are paid in different bands relating to their knowledge and experience.

      However, doctor and nurses will get a 3 per cent pay rise, the Government announced this week.

      Ministers awarded the salary hike after initially proposing only a 1 per cent increase, which was lambasted by NHS staff as derisory.

      The Department for Health estimates the average nurse will pocket £1,000 more each year, while hospital cleaners an extra £540.

      The 3 per cent uplift also includes GPs, consultants, paramedics and dentists.

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      WHY IS THE ‘PINGDEMIC’ CAUSING CHAOS?

      Currently parents are pulling kids out of school early to avoid the “Pingdemic” and having to cancel their summer holidays.

      Youngsters are being kept at home by their worried parents to avoid the risk of being “pinged” or told to self-isolate ahead of the summer holidays, it’s been revealed.

      Meanwhile a tube line has been suspended and two others affected after the “Pingdemic” cut staff numbers.

      Train services are being affected by a staff shortage triggered when workers were told to self-isolate.

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      CHANGES TO THE FURLOUGH SCHEME (CONTINUED)

      But from July 1, the rules changed so that the government is only paying 70% of wages up to a maximum of £2,187.50 – employers now have to make up the difference so everyone still gets 80% pay.

      From August 1, the government contribution will reduce again and the amount companies put in will rise.

      The government will only pay 60% of furloughed workers’ wages up to a maximum cap of £1,875.

      Again, your company will have to pay the remaining 20% so that you still get 80% of your wage in total.

      One thing to note is that you could miss out if your company was voluntarily paying extra.

    • [email protected]

      CHANGES TO THE FURLOUGH SCHEME

      Changes to the rules around furlough mean that your employer will have to fund more of your wages – but what does it mean for your pay?

      Companies will have to foot more of the bill for anyone furloughed under the coronavirus job retention scheme from 1 August.

      The government extended the scheme until September 30, 2021, but revealed that employers would have to shoulder an increasing share of the financial burden.

      The good news is that the amount you take home each month shouldn’t change, although it could if your company was voluntarily paying you extra.

      Under the original scheme, the government paid 80% of wages up to a maximum of £2,500 per month.

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      GOVERNMENT NEED TO ACT FAST ON THREAT OF FOOD SHORTAGES

      Andrew Opie, of the British Retail Consortium, said: “The Government needs to act fast.

      “Retail workers and suppliers, who have played a vital role throughout this pandemic, should be allowed to work provided they are double-jabbed or can show a negative Covid test, to ensure there is no disruption to the public’s ability to get food and other goods. With community cases soaring, the number of healthy retail staff ­having to self-isolate is rising fast, disrupting retail operations.”

      Retail bosses say the heatwave and a surge in demand for barbecue food, ice creams, soft drinks, beer and salad have added to the problems.

      Yesterday photos showed empty shelves at Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda, Morrisons, Iceland and Lidl at stores in Manchester, Bristol, Edinburgh and Southampton.

      There was a shortage of fresh fruit and veg, fridge food, water, beer and kitchen roll at a Tesco in Cambridge. A nearby Asda was short of bread and greens.

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      DOMINIC CUMMINGS CLAIMS HE TRIED TO OUT BORIS JOHNSON BECAUSE HE ‘DIDN’T HAVE A PLAN’

      Cummings claimed he tried to out the PM because he “didn’t have a plan.”

      He said:“I had a plan, I was trying to get things done, he didn’t have a plan… he didn’t have an agenda, you know the Prime Minister’s only agenda is buy more trains, buy more buses, have more bikes and build the world’s most stupid tunnel to Ireland, that’s it.”

      The BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg asked him if it made him a “treacherous” person for plotting against the PM, to which he replied: “In some ways yes.”

    • [email protected]

      CASE ADJOURNED OVER CONTROVERSIAL LOCKDOWN-BUSTING DINNER IN IRELAND

      A case against two politicians and two hoteliers on charges of breaching the Irish Covid-19 regulations after allegedly organising the controversial Oireachtas Golf Society dinner last August in Galway has been adjourned.

      Galway East Independent TD Noel Grealish (55), former Fianna Fail senator Donie Cassidy (75), John Sweeney (60) and his son James Sweeney (32), owners of the Station House Hotel, did not appear in court.

      The accused were all represented when the case was called so were not obliged to attend the first hearing.

      They have each been charged with a single charge of organising or causing to organise an event in contravention of Section 31A of the Health Act 1947, as amended to limit the spread of Covid-19.

      The alleged offences relate to a dinner which took place at the Station House Hotel on August 19 last year that was attended by 81 people.

      They each face fines of up to 2,500 euro and up to six months in prison, if convicted.

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      'GET OUT CLAUSE'

      Speaking during a visit to Scotland, Ms Reeves said: "Keir Starmer is self-isolating and unlike the Prime Minister he self-isolated as soon as he was told he had to.

      "He did not try to find a get-out clause like the Prime Minister did.

      "I wish our Prime Minister and our Chancellor were more focused on ensuring our essential public services and our supermarkets can keep going rather than trying to help themselves get to PMQs in the Houses of Parliament."

    • [email protected]

      KEIR STARMER DID NOT LOOK FOR A "GET-OUT CLAUSE" FOR SELF-ISOLATION, SAYS KEY ALLY

      Sir Keir Starmer did not try and find a "get-out clause" to avoid self-isolation like the Prime Minister and Chancellor, a senior member of his shadow cabinet has said.

      Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves criticised Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunakafter it emerged they planned to avoid isolating after being a close contact of Health Secretary Sajid Javid – who tested positive for the virus – by being part of a daily testing pilot scheme.

      A public backlash forced a retreat, meaning both the Prime Minister and Chancellor were self-isolating on "freedom day" when most legal restrictions were removed in England.

      Labour leader Sir Keir was also forced to self-isolate on Wednesday after one of his children tested positive for Covid-19.

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      TOKYO HITS SIX-MONTH CASES HIGH THE DAY BEFORE THE OLYMPIC OPENING CEREMONY

      Tokyo has hit another six-month high in new coronavirus cases, one day before the Olympics.

      The 1,979 new cases Thursday are the highest since 2,044 were recorded on Jan. 15.

      Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and the International Olympic Committee have been determined to hold the Olympics despite the pandemic. Suga placed Tokyo under a state of emergency on July 12, but daily cases have sharply risen.

      Spectators are banned from all Olympic venues in the Tokyo area, with limited audiences allowed at a few outlying sites.

      The emergency measures, which largely involve a ban on alcohol sales and shorter hours for restaurants and bars, are to last until Aug. 22, after the Olympics end on Aug. 8.

      About 23% of Japanese are fully vaccinated, considerably short of the level believed necessary to have a meaningful effect on reducing the risk in the general population.

      Japan has reported about 853,000 cases and 15,100 confirmed deaths, most of them this year.

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      MINISTER INSISTS CRUCIAL SERVICES CAN CONTINUE TO OPERATE DESPITE “PINGDEMIC”

      A health minister has said “crucial services will be able to continue to operate” despite the “pingdemic” because of a new Covid system launching next month.

      Helen Whately told MPs there had been a “specific policy” which allowed NHS staff to continue to work even after being alerted by the NHS app as having been in contact with someone who had been infected.

      She added: “The Prime Minister has also said we will make sure that crucial services will be able to continue to operate, even recognising that many people are at the moment isolating and that goes beyond health and social care, and that in mid-August we are introducing a new system.”

      The obligation to self-isolate if “pinged” by the NHS Covid app is due to be scrapped next month.

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