Supermarkets and wholesalers in the U.K. are beginning to face shortages after the government's official health app told hundreds of thousands of workers to self-isolate after contact with someone with COVID-19, Reuters reports.
Why it matters: The "pingdemic" disruptions pose a new challenge to the highly vaccinated U.K., which is reporting more than 50,000 new COVID-19 cases per day as the Delta variant tears through the country.
- U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson lifted virtually all pandemic restrictions in England on July 19, threatening to exacerbate the problem further.
- 87% of adults have received at least one vaccine dose and 68% have received two doses, per Reuters. 60% of all COVID-19 hospitalizations are among unvaccinated people, according to health officials.
Driving the news: The National Health Service's contact tracing app that notifies people to isolate for 10 days after COVID-19 exposure has tarnished Johnson's plan to fully reopen England's economy.
- "We're very concerned about the situation," Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said, per Reuters. "We're monitoring the situation."
- The supermarket group Iceland said it closed a number of stores due to staff shortages.
- "We have a structural issue with [a shortage of] HGV drivers for a variety of different reasons, but of course the 'pingdemic' has made it even worse," Iceland's managing director Richard Walker told ITV. "We are starting to see some availability issues."
- Sainsbury's, the U.K.'s second-largest supermarket group, said customers should be able to find the products they want, but perhaps not every brand.
Between the lines: To avoid the disruption, many individuals have deleted the contract tracing app from their phones, per Reuters.