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Wednesday, November 29, 2023

UK evaluates cost of another ‘pingdemic’

With lockdowns looming due to the spread of Omicron, the new mutant strain of Covid-19, another “pingdemic” could cost the UK economy £2 billion a month, the country’s industry leaders warned Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng.
The so-called “pingdemic,” derived from the words “pandemic” and “ping,” refers to being notified, or pinged, by an app which tracks and registers close contact with the infected, and recommends self-isolation for a certain amount of time.

The first one – imposed during the previous coronavirus wave – had an enormous negative impact on a wide range of economic sectors, heavily hitting the supply chains and creating severe labor shortages across the country. The measures were dropped in August for fully vaccinated citizens.

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Over the weekend, British authorities introduced the targeted measures to tackle the new coronavirus variant. They take effect at 4:00 am on November 30, and include compulsory mask-wearing in shops and on public transport, PCR tests and self-isolation until getting a negative result if arriving from abroad, as well as 10 days of self-isolation for those who were in contact with suspected Omicron cases.

The renewed rules oblige the fully-vaccinated to stay home if they are identified as a close contact of someone who tests positive for Omicron.


According to the Institute of Economic Affairs, the measures are expected to lead to another ruinous pingdemic-prompted shortage of goods and labor in the run-up to Christmas, as businesses become crippled by the growing number of staff being forced to self-isolate.

“The impact of a repeat could now be greater, because the rules are being tightened in school term time and when labor shortages are a bigger problem. The new self-isolation rules could knock as much as 1% off GDP in December, costing the economy at least £2 billion,” Julian Jessop of the IEA told the Daily Mail.

According to Stephen Phipson, the head of the manufacturers’ group Make UK, the risk that the self-isolation rules will worsen the already tough staffing issues is huge.

“We don’t want to go back to the pingdemic,” he told the Financial Times.


For more stories on economy & finance visit RT’s business section

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from RT – Daily news

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