Covid 'pingdemic' should have been predicted and requires urgent government action – Scotsman comment

The protection afforded by Covid vaccines has enabled a significant re-opening of the economy and society.

However, it should have been obvious from the start that this would lead to an increase in infections as people started to interact with each other more often. Even those who have had a double-dose of vaccine can still catch Covid, but this is much less likely, as is a severe form of the disease or death.

So what has become known as the “pingdemic” should have been anticipated. The Protect Scotland app and its equivalent south of the Border alert people if they have been near someone who has tested positive for the virus and who also has the app.

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The obvious problem is that the majority of people ‘pinged’ in this way do not actually have the disease, but they are still asked to self-isolate.

It seems rather odd that while a positive test can initiate the request, a negative test or even multiple negative tests cannot rescind it.

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Boris Johnson caused uproar when he suggested that he and Chancellor Rishi Sunak did not need to self-isolate because they were instead taking part in a pilot scheme where people would be regularly tested instead.

Even though both he and Sunak backed down in the face of public wrath about ‘one rule of us, one rule for them’, it feels like this pilot scheme should have been carried out long ago. Because, right now, the economic damage caused by the pandemic is being exacerbated by people needlessly having to take time off work to such an extent that food supplies have been disrupted and panic buying has broken out.

The Protect Scotland app alerts people if they have been near someone who also has the app and who has tested positive for Covid (Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA)

It is likely that some people are shying away from the great re-opening, not just because they fear the virus, but because they cannot afford to get pinged. Many have already deleted the app to avoid this happening – and remember, these are people who were conscientious enough to download it in the first place.

Before tests were widely available, self-isolation was the only real option. But now that they are, a ping should instead lead to a test, unless there is a very good reason why not.

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