The UK is in the midst of a ‘pingdemic’ with businesses being hammered by a shortage of staff caused by alerts from the NHS Covid app.
An estimated 1.7million people are currently being forced to self-isolate at home for 10 days after being notified by the app that they have been in close contact with someone with the virus.
While it is only a legal requirement to isolate if you are contacted, and not if you are pinged, there are fears that Freedom Day will cause even more people to remain housebound, threatening businesses across the country.
Even Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak were forced to self-isolate after they were pinged following Sajid Javid’s positive Covid test.
The app has been downloaded only 25million times in the UK out of a population of nearly 70million.
Other countries have their own versions of the Test and Trace app which have had varying levels of success.
The UK is in the midst of a ‘pingdemic’ with businesses being hammered by a shortage of staff caused by alerts from the NHS Covid app (pictured)
Australia’s COVIDSafe app was created for state and territory public health officials to contact users who had been near a Covid-19 infected person for 15 minutes.
The voluntary app, which cost $6.5million, has created controversy since its introduction, widely reported to be an ongoing failure due to little uptake on the download.
There are also reports the app had not been used to detected any new close contacts since November, 2020.
The app has been downloaded 6.44million times in a population of 25million and it is still having issues a year on, with iPhones struggling to pair data with Samsung devices, or share information while locked or running in the background.
Australia’s COVIDSafe app (pictured) was created for state and territory public health officials to contact users who had been near a Covid-19 infected person for 15 minutes
There is no official nationwide contact-tracing programme in the US with state officials attempting to enforce their own schemes.
Contact tracers have no power to enforce self-isolation but can recommend it to those who have come into contact with Covid.
In Maryland last summer, a quarter of people called by tracers did not answer the phone.
While state authorities have released their own apps, there has been a poor take-up and there have been issues when residents cross state lines.
TousAntiCovid, which means Everyone Against Covid, has now been downloaded by 20million people out of a population more than three times that size.
Only half of those with the app actively use it.
When users get pinged, they are advised to get tested but it is not compulsory.
TousAntiCovid, which means Everyone Against Covid, has now been downloaded by 20million people out of a population more than three times that size
So far, around 200,000 people have been informed of a close contact with the virus, The Telegraph reports.
French health agencies carry out most of the tracing manually by sending a text message to the contacts of someone who has tested positive.
But no one checks to make sure whether the self-isolation period is carried out.
Unsurprisingly, China has a rigorous contact tracing system from which no one is exempt.
Those who have been pinged have to be tested and forced to carry out a strictly enforced self-isolation from between 14 and 21 days.
Apps have been developed by central and local governments that track citizens via phone signals to telecom towers.
To enter any public places including the underground, parks, shopping centres and restaurants, users have to log in to the app.
It is linked to the phone user’s mobile number and ID or passport, with anyone trying to cheat the system likely to land prison time.
Even if someone had travelled to an area with new cases, app users will be pinged.
The official Italian app Immuni has only been downloaded by 11.6million people out of a population of 60million.
Those who are pinged are not required to self-isolate but are instead told to contact their local doctor for advice.
Immuni was launched in June last year and has so far sent 100,000 notifications, with 19,600 people found to be positive.
Innovation Minister Vittorio Colao said in April: ‘The Immuni app did not have a great success with the public but it could in the future, and could become useful for vaccination passports.’
Immuni data can currently be exchanged with similar apps being used in other European countries such as Spain, Ireland, Germany, Norway, Austria and Poland.
Belgium’s app Coronalert does not automatically ping users who have come into contact with Covid.
Instead, those who have tested positive have to manually input the names and contact details of the people they have seen.
If you are contacted you are then expected to carry out a self-isolation period of 10 days and take two free PCR tests.
In a population of 11.5million, only 2.8million residents have downloaded the app.
Many of those have input their positive tests, with 80,000 logged on the app, but only 36 per cent of them shared the details of their close contacts.
Taiwan, once the example country for its Covid handling, has recently suffered a huge surge in Covid cases.
The Asian country uses contact-tracing teams who use QR codes, phone signals and human intelligence to track down the contact of people who have tested positive.
All public buildings require people to scan a QR code when entering, allowing the authorities to easily find people who have been a close contact to the virus.
A voluntary app has also been developed allowing users to be notified if they have come within two metres of an infected person for more than two minutes.
Those pinged by the app are then asked to contact their health services.
Aarogya Setu, meaning a bridge to health, has been downloaded more than 100million times in India.
But the huge reach of the app is still just a fraction of the country’s population of 1.38billion.
Aarogya Setu, meaning a bridge to health, has been downloaded more than 100million times in India
Indians have been threatened with bans from hospitality venues, fines and arrests for not having the app.
But many have chosen not to download it, meaning it is now mostly defunct.
State governments are now in control of contact tracing but most authorities do not have the resources to do it effectively.
Smittestopp was released in Denmark last June and is designed to alert users if they have been within a metre of an infected person for more than 15 minutes.
The app is used on top of manual contact tracing which is conducted by the Danish Patient Safety Authority.
Its main function is to identify potential infections between people who do not know each other but were in close contact.
In September, it was revealed that a technical issue meant that many people who should have been pinged by the app were not.
Smittestopp was released in Denmark last June and is designed to alert users if they have been within a metre of an infected person for more than 15 minutes
The family of a Copenhagen city councillor did not receive any notifications despite living with her after she tested positive for the virus.
The Dutch Covid app, CoronaMelder, was only launched nationally in October, months after many other countries due to privacy concerns.
The app uses Bluetooth to notify anyone who has been in close contact with a positive case of Covid, within 1.5 metres for at least 15 minutes.
Those pinged are advised to self-isolate for ten days but neither the app or the isolation period are compulsory.
In April, it was revealed that a data leak meant Android phone users’ data was being collected by other third party apps.
It was taken offline for two days before the issue was resolved.