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Friday, 23 July 2021 15:07

The New Pingdemic

One of the peculiarities of the Covid-19 emergency occurring during our current age of digital transformation is something that is widely being referred to as the “Pingdemic”. On the run up to, and following Covid freedom day on the 19th July, there has been a marked resurgence in the number of Covid cases being reported. Consequently there has been an increase in the number of individuals being “Pinged” by NHS Test and Trace and having to self-isolate.

The knock-on effects have been extensively reported in the media and we have seen disruption at airports where teams of ground and border control staff have been required to self-isolate after being contacted by Test and Trace or through the NHS mobile App. There have also been reports of food supply chain disruption as a result of delivery drivers being similarly affected.

Even the Prime Minister and Chancellor were unable to escape the curse of the ping, despite an attempt to include themselves in a pilot scheme which allows certain sector workers to avoid self-isolation provided they test negative for Covid-19 on a daily basis.

At the time of writing, the seven-day average for Covid cases has reached nearly 45,000; a figure last seen around the middle of January this year, shortly after the peak in cases of the disease. Hospital admissions and deaths on the other hand remain comparatively very low and this is of course attributed to the effects of the vaccine, particularly in those who have had both doses.

However, despite the vaccine rollout, even double jabbers are still becoming infected with Covid-19, and some, including one of our own members of staff, have suffered the effects quite significantly. Generally, the effects of covid on the double jabbed seem to be reduced but it remains an offence to fail to self-isolate if you have been instructed to do so by Test and Trace or if you or a household member develop symptoms. The fine for failing to self-isolate also remains, starting at £1000.

The current situation creates new problems for employers.

Self-isolation is classed as sickness absence, and as such those who are self-isolating are entitled to Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) unless the employer enhances this. There is always the work from home option of course but for say, a construction or manufacturing company this simply isn’t viable.

Danger arises when workers who should be self-isolating choose not to and continue to come to work because they don’t want the reduction in wages. This then risks spreading the disease amongst co-workers creating further issues that could manifest within a few days, potentially affecting the entire workforce.

Equally, as co-workers, by definition, will be sharing space, there is a risk that a large proportion of employees are self-isolating at the same time making it impossible to operate a proper functioning business and causing a temporary closure affecting turnover and profits.

Employers need a clearly communicated stance for which we must defer to the Government guidance. Despite the unlocking on the 19th, the rules are still firm for those who:

  • Suffer Covid-19 symptoms
  • Test positive for Covid-19
  • Are in the same household as someone who test positive
  • Are contacted by Test and Trace

In short, for any of the above, you must self-isolate for 10 days and get a PCR test is you haven’t already had one. The only exception to self-isolation would be if you suffered the symptoms but returned a negative PCR test. This may be because you have another infection such as flu. Even then, you should only return to work if:

  • you are well
  • no-one else in your household has symptoms or has tested positive for COVID-19
  • you have not been advised to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace

The NHS have produced an infographic which explains most of the above and can be downloaded https://bit.ly/3ePS1mp and the full details can be found at https://bit.ly/3kNinJv

For those living in England who are forced to self-isolate, there is a £500 Test and Trace Support Payment that can be applied for, the details for which can be found at https://bit.ly/3y2iYLl

To avoid any confusion regarding Test and Trace, references in this article relate to the NHS Test and Trace service and not the NHS mobile app. There is a theory that those contacted through the App alone do not need to self-isolate. Indeed, it’s been reported that some businesses have advised employees to delete the app from their mobile phones to avoid being pinged. It’s a very grey area as, after all, it’s not compulsory to have the app installed and it doesn’t collect any personal data. However, we should all remember that it is our civil duty to act responsibly and help to keep ourselves and one another safe.

Rules regarding self-isolation are due for revue on the 16th August so any policy that you implement may be short-lived. Our advice is to refer to the current Government guidelines to avoid confusion.

If you’d like a more detailed conversation about the content of this article or if you think you have a situation the falls outside of it, call on 01452 331331 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Read 160 times Last modified on Friday, 23 July 2021 15:08
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