Neighbours are being told to self-isolate because the NHS Test and Trace app is “pinging” people through walls, it has been reported.
Hundreds of thousands of people have been ordered to stay indoors in a single week after being pinged by the Covid app.
Anybody in England who tests positive for Covid-19, either through a rapid (LFD) test or a PCR test processed in a laboratory, is transferred to Test and Trace so their contacts can be traced and alerted.
Some 86.1% of these people were reached in the latest week.
A total of 194,005 people tested positive for Covid-19 in England at least once in the week to July 7.
The Telegraph reports that some people are being forced to self-isolate for 10 days despite never having had contact with a positive Covid case face-to-face.
The publication claims that sources close to the Test and Trace app team say the Bluetooth signal used is strong enough to penetrate through walls.
It is said to have been raised as a concern during development and is being reviewed but Whitehall sources said any changes could take ‘some weeks.’
A source said: “We are hearing of anecdotal cases and we do know that it is possible for the signal to travel through walls, although it is weakened.
“The app has been calibrated to try to avoid that happening, but we are reviewing the issue of notifications carefully.”
Dr Fiona Sampson, a senior research fellow in emergency and urgent care at the University of Sheffield, told the publication: “My partner got pinged and rang 111 to find out when the contact was. However, he hadn’t left the house on the day of the alleged contact.
“We later realised he had been working with his phone on the table, less than two metres away from our neighbour.”
Jason Delaney, 39, who owns a bar in Alton, Hampshire, reportedly said he was pinged despite not having come into close contact with anyone on the day in question.
A government spokesman would not say how many people were believed to have been pinged through walls, but said the number was not big enough to be considered an issue.
The spokesman added: “But we wouldn’t say that this never happens.”
It comes after revelations that more than half a million people have been ordered to isolate in England and Wales after being ‘pinged’ by the Covid app.
Latest data shows 530,126 alerts – 520,194 in England and 9,932 in Wales – were sent in the seven days to July 7.
This is a 46 per cent rise compared to the previous week, and is the highest seven day total since data was first published in January.
Despite the rise in the number of people getting “pinged” there were more downloads of the app in the seven days to July 7 (342,483) than in any week since the seven days to June 6 (393,842).
Separate figures showed nearly one in seven people transferred to the Test and Trace system in England after testing positive for Covid-19 are not being reached.