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Empty shelves at a Tesco supermarket in central London on July 22. Photo: Justin Tallis/AFP via Getty Images

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, which threatens to exacerbate the problem further.
  • 88% of adults have received at least one vaccine dose and 69% 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 contact tracing app from their phones, per Reuters.

Go deeper

17 hours ago - Health

New York City revives vaccine passports

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

New York City yesterday became the first city in the U.S. to require proof of coronavirus vaccination for indoor dining and other leisure activities, a measure popular among public health experts but previously squashed by political backlash to "vaccine passports."

Why it matters: Employers and now local governments are starting to ensure that remaining unvaccinated will have consequences for everyday life, testing the resolve of those who say nothing could persuade them to get a shot.

Rep. Letlow on losing husband to COVID: "I would've given anything" for the vaccine

Rep. Julia Letlow (R-La.), whose husband, Luke, died of COVID-19 in December, made an emotional, urgent plea on "CBS This Morning" for more Louisiana residents to get the coronavirus vaccine as the state faces a surge in new cases.

Driving the news: "He and I had prayed for weeks prior about the possibility of the vaccine and we were so excited that it was coming out and that it was going to be widely available," Letlow said in an interview that aired Wednesday. "And he missed it by two weeks."

22 hours ago - Sports

Greece's artistic swimming team to miss Olympics after COVID outbreak

Greece's Maria Alzigkouzi Kominea and Evangelia Papazogloun the Artistic Swimming Duet Free Routine Preliminary of the Olympic Games at Tokyo Aquatics Centre on Aug. 2, 2021 in Japan. Photo" Clive Rose/Getty Images

Greece's entire 12-woman artistic swimming team is out of the Tokyo Olympic Games due to an outbreak of COVID-19 among the group.

Driving the news: Tokyo Games organizers confirmed Wednesday that five members of the Greek team had tested positive for the virus and that their teammates were considered close contacts.