Although England celebrated ‘Freedom Day’ this week, it appears the day opened the door for another kind of crisis that has been termed ‘Pingdemic’; this crisis is posing to be more of a threat than the pandemic itself has stores and organizations are shutting down as a result of its impact on the businesses.
What is “Pingdemic”?
This is a word coined from playing on the terms “pandemic” and “ping”; it means being alerted by the NHS Covid-19 app on your phone. The UK NHS designed a Covid-19 app that is meant to alert the citizens when they have been in contact with someone who has tested positive with Covid-19. When you get “pinged”, you are expected to self-isolate for a particular length of time.
Why is it a Threat?
In recent weeks, there has been a sharp increase in the number of ‘pinged’ people; more than half a million have been ‘pinged’ by the app as at July 7, 2021 and, the Government’s figures have confirmed over 48,000 Covid-19 cases as at Sunday July 18, 2021. As a result, several staff members are self-isolating, making it difficult for some industries. Those pinged are usually advised to isolate for at least 10 days; this can be increased should the person develop symptoms.
The outcome of the self-isolation for industries is staff shortages; a state that brings about commotion in industries where staff cannot work from home, including grocery stores and transport networks. The Managing Director of Iceland, Richard Walker said: “We are in the unprecedented position of having to close stores due to staff absences – not because of Covid-19, but because of a broken and disruptive Track and Trace app. Staff absences rose by 50 per cent last week and the trend is sharp and quick, not just affecting our own colleagues but those throughout our supply chains and logistics networks.”
Some business owners warn of the impending dangers on the Economy, should this continue; especially with the supply chain. According to The Times, Steve Rowe, Chief Executive of Marks & Spencer said the self-isolation of staff members is a “major issue across every industry at the moment” and, this could bring about supply chain issues. “Our Covid cases are roughly doubling every week and the pinging level is about three to one of Covid cases, so we’re seeing that growing exponentially.”
The Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union has disclosed the shutting of the Metropolitan Line on the London Underground network on Saturday 17 July due to key staff self-isolating showed that the transportation facilities were “on a knife edge”.
The Need for A Check
Expressing his doubt about the efficacy of the app and the rules surrounding it, Mr. Walker called for an “overhaul of the rules around the Test and Trace app, ideally switching to a ‘Test and Release’ model”. The General secretary Mick Lynch told the PA news agency: “Many rail, bus and Tube services are already seriously understaffed which leaves them dangerously exposed; adding that “freedom day could very easily collapse into chaos day” unless the right measures were put in place.