‘Pingdemic’ puts Britain’s food supply under strain

‘Pingdemic’ puts Britain’s food supply under strain

LONDON — British supermarkets said on Thursday that some products were in short supply and petrol stations had been forced to close after the official health app told hundreds of thousands of workers to isolate following contact with someone with COVID-19.

British newspapers carried front-page pictures of empty shelves in supermarkets, declaring a “pingdemic.”

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng told Sky News the government was “very concerned” about the situation but that he did not recognize the network’s characterization of “bare” supermarket shelves.

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With cases rising to nearly 50,000 day in the United Kingdom, hundreds of thousands of people have been advised — or “pinged” — by the National Health Service’s contact-tracing app to isolate for 10 days.

The drastic reduction in staffing that has resulted has sown chaos through sectors as diverse as food supplies, haulage, supermarkets, hospitality, manufacturing and media. To avoid disruption, many people have deleted the app from their phones.

Sainsbury’s, Britain’s second largest grocer, said customers may not be able to

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