Covid: More than half a million pinged by NHS app in a week - highest ever figure

ITV News Correspondent Rupert Evelyn talks to businesses who are currently being hit by staff isolating.

More than half a million people in England were "pinged" by the NHS Covid-19 app in a single week - the highest weekly figure ever recorded.

A total of 520,194 alerts were sent to users in the week to July 7 - a jump of 46% on the previous week - telling them to isolate after being in close contact with somebody who has coronavirus.

The soaring numbers of those self-isolating is wreaking "havoc" for businesses, unions have said.

Unite says factories across the country are on the verge of shutting because of staff shortages caused by test and trace isolation.

ITV News Health Editor Emily Morgan reports on the latest isolation figures and analyses the impact this could have on hospitals

"The reports Unite is receiving from our members and their employers are extremely worrying," said assistant general secretary Steve Turner.

"It is not an exaggeration to say factories are on the verge of shutting and that at some sites hundreds of staff are off work."

Coronavirus tests being carried out at the Edgbaston Cricket Ground Covid-19 testing site in Birmingham. Credit: PA

The union has called on the government to ease the isolation requirements earlier than the planned August 16 - when double-jabbed contacts of positive cases will no longer need to isolate.

"It is clear that something has to be done in time for July 19, or else people will simply start deleting the app en masse to avoid isolation notices," Mr Turner said.

"There will be public health consequences if test and trace is seen as a nuisance rather than an infection control measure."

Local authorities may encourage people to wear masks again, Calum Semple suggests Credit: Yui Mok/PA

It comes as businesses also face the task of setting their own rules on face coverings after the government scrapped the law on wearing them in England from Monday.

Businesses have begun to take things into their own hands, but have few powers to enforce recommendations.

New guidance on workplace safety for when most restrictions in England end says the government "expects and recommends" masks to be worn by workers and customers in crowded, enclosed spaces as the work from home order ends.

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