The number of contract tracing ‘pings’ sent to users of the NHS COVID-19 app has fallen to a two-month low as new guidance for self-isolation takes effect in England and Northern Ireland.

During the week to 11th August, just over 261,000 alerts were sent by the app, which is an 18% drop from the previous seven days and much lower than the peak in mid-July.

Earlier in the summer, there were fears that a so-called ‘pingdemic’ could cripple industries after almost 700,000 people received an alert within a single week.

However, the number of alerts has fallen sharply since then and is likely to continue trending downwards following the arrival of new guidance.

Since last Monday (16th August), fully vaccinated adults and young people under 18 are no longer required to self-isolate when they receive an alert within the app.

Those who have come into close contact with a person who has tested positive for COVID-19 will now instead be encouraged to take a PCR test.

While they won’t have to self-isolate for 10 days, they are advised to wear a mask indoors and to limit socialising with others.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid believes that the latest changes will help the UK to take a “step back towards normality”.

The cautious optimism has been ably supported by a successful vaccination rollout, with almost 41 million people now double vaccinated as of 17th August.

Data shows that the number of venue ‘check-ins’, a function within the NHS COVID-19 app, has also fallen by more than a quarter to 1,305,356.