FEARS Britain could be paralysed by the pingdemic were mounting this afternoon as record numbers of workers were forced to isolate.
Critical services risked being crippled by staffing crises after alerts sent by the NHS Covid app went into overdrive as cases soared.
More than 618,000 people were pinged into quarantine last week, shock stats show.
Scrambling Ministers were set to imminently publish a list of crucial sectors where double-jabbed essential workers could dodge quarantine.
Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng warned the list only would be “narrow” because isolation remained important to wresting down infections.
A chorus of despairing bosses, politicians and consumers are seeking immediate solutions amid dire warnings of shortages.
Boris Johnson is even facing calls from some MPs to call in the army to shore up the supply chains.
In an urgent intervention this lunchtime, Sadiq Khan warned the pingdemic could grind the capital’s services to a halt.
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The Mayor told the Standard: “I am increasingly concerned about our ability to maintain current levels of absolutely crucial services like public transport, food supplies and bin collections.”
Alarming pictures of bare shelves prompted supermarket bosses to beg shoppers not to panic-buy.
Tory MP Tobias Ellwood, chair of the defence select committee, said: “The urgency of staff shortages now impacting on supermarkets and by extension national food distribution warrants a Cobra meeting today for which the deployment of the Army to assist in HGV driver shortfall should be a last resort option considered.”
‘ROBUST AND RESILIENT’
Downing Street insisted the UK has “robust and resilient” supply chains and is in contact with affected industries.
Environment Secretary George Eustice added that the heatwave was to blame for certain products like bottled water being snapped up.
Iceland boss Richard Walker said the cost-cutting store was hiring 2,000 temp workers plug the “exponential rise in pinging”.
Up to a quarter of staff at some manufacturers in the food and drink businesses are self-isolating, the industry group has said.
Ian Wright, chief executive of the Food and Drink Federation, told the Government to “pull their fingers out”.
He told Sky News: “We need to get this sorted soon, or what will happen is that people will vote with their fingers and turn off the app.”
The Government’s “confusing advice” over whether lorry drivers must isolate when pinged has been blamed.
Road Haulage Association boss Rod Mckenzie said: “We’re in this pickle because the Government says a small number of essential workers are exempt from isolating if they’ve been double-jabbed and test negative, but what is essential?”