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TechUK requests government to reconsider self-isolation policy for data centres

Written by Thu 5 Aug 2021

The UK government’s self-isolation policy raised concerns that it was too inflexible to properly accommodate digital infrastructure and data centre personnel.

TechUK issued a positioning statement requesting that the government rethink the eligibility criteria and process for allowing organizations to bring critical employees back to work.

Just a few days later, the NHS COVID-19 app was updated, to reduce the number of isolation notices that were sent to users.

The UK government published a critical workers self-isolation policy whereby a limited number of employees may go back to work before a 10-day self-isolation is completed, provided they are double-vaccinated and have written permission from the DCMS (Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport) to return.

This was determined by TechUK to be too difficult to comply with, putting critical technical infrastructure like data centres into jeopardy of service interruptions.

Originally, the app sent a notice to self-isolate to anyone that had been in close contact within five days of a person testing positive for COVID-19. Within a few days, however, the government decided to reduce the close contact requirement from five days to two days, in the hopes that fewer people will be ‘pinged’ by the application and required to self-isolate.

The app is still as sensitive to potential transmission as before, alerting people that were within 2 metres of a person testing positive for 15 minutes duration.

During the week of July 15-21 alone, 600,000 UK citizens were alerted that they should begin self-isolation. Independent research from Oxford University estimates that the app prevented approximately 50,000 COVID-19 cases during the first three weeks of July.

The change from a ‘5-day prior’ alert system to a ‘2-day prior’ alert system will hopefully reduce the total number of notices that are sent, thereby alleviating the burden of isolating employees on critical businesses.

Health secretary Sajid Javid explained the change, stating, “We want to reduce the disruption that self-isolation can cause for people and businesses while ensuring we’re protecting those most at risk from this virus. This update to the app will help ensure that we are striking the right balance.”

However, he reiterated the critical nature of compliance with self-isolation notices when they are received. “It’s so important that people isolate when asked to do so in order to stop the spread of the virus and protect their communities.”

Written by Thu 5 Aug 2021


Coronavirus protection self-isolation
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