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NHS Covid-19 app users sent incorrect risk-level change alerts | World news

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Users of the NHS coronavirus app for England and Wales have reported receiving confusing notifications that the risk level in their area has changed in ways that contradict official government guidance.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said on Saturday it had identified and resolved the problem, which affected updates made to the app’s postcode alert system on Friday evening.

“We live in Walsall and it is classed as HIGH risk,” one user tweeted on Friday.

“Why have we all received an alert saying our risk level has changed due to ‘rising risk levels’ … yet it is now MEDIUM? This is very confusing.. what is it?”

Tier one – medium

  • The “rule of six” applies, meaning socialising in groups larger than six people is prohibited whether indoors or outdoors.
  • Tradespeople can continue to go into a household for work and are not counted as being part of the six-person limit.
  • Businesses and venues can continue to operate but pubs and restaurants must ensure customers only consume food and drink while seated, and close between 10pm and 5am.
  • Takeaway food can continue to be sold after 10pm if ordered by phone or online.
  • Schools and universities remain open.
  • Places of worship remain open but people must not mingle in a group of more than six.
  • Weddings and funerals can go ahead with restrictions on the number of people who can attend (15 and 30 respectively).
  • Exercise classes and organised sport can continue to take place outdoors, and – if the rule of six is followed – indoors.

Tier two – high

  • People are prohibited from socialising with anybody outside their household or support bubble in any indoor setting.
  • Tradespeople can continue to go into a household for work.
  • The rule of six continues to apply for socialising outdoors, for instance in a garden or public space like a park or beach.
  • Businesses and venues can continue to operate but pubs and restaurants must ensure customers only consume food and drink while seated, and close between 10pm and 5am.
  • Takeaway food can continue to be sold after 10pm if ordered online or by phone.
  • Schools and universities remain open.
  • Places of worship remain open but people must not mingle in a group of more than six.
  • Weddings and funerals can go ahead with restrictions on the number of people who can attend (15 and 30 respectively).
  • Exercise classes and organised sport can continue to take place outdoors but will only be permitted indoors if it is possible for people to avoid mixing with those they do not live with (or share a support bubble with), or for youth or disability sport.
  • Travel is permitted to amenities that are open, for work or to access education, but people are advised to reduce the number of journeys where possible.

Tier three – very high

  • People are prohibited from socialising with anybody they do not live with, or have not formed a support bubble with, in any indoor setting, private garden or at most outdoor hospitality venues and ticketed events.
  • Tradespeople can continue to go into a household for work.
  • The rule of six continues to apply to outdoor public spaces, such as parks, beaches, public gardens or sports venues.
  • Pubs and bars are only permitted to remain open to operate as restaurants, in which case alcohol can only be served as part of a substantial meal.
  • Schools and universities remain open.
  • Places of worship remain open but household mixing is not permitted.
  • Weddings and funerals can go ahead with restrictions on the number of people attending (15 and 30 respectively) but wedding receptions are not allowed.
  • The rules for exercise classes and organised sport are the same as in tier 2. They can continue to take place outdoors but will only be permitted indoors if it is possible for people to avoid mixing with people they do not live with (or share a support bubble with), or for youth or disability sport. However, in Merseyside, gyms were ordered to close when it entered tier 3.
  • Travelling outside a very high alert level area or entering a very high alert level area should be avoided other than for things such as work, education or youth services, to meet caring responsibilities or if travelling through as part of a longer journey.
  • Residents of a tier 3 area should avoid staying overnight in another part of the UK, while people who live in a tier 1 or tier 2 area should avoid staying overnight in a very high alert level area.

Photograph: Peter Byrne/PA

Another user, who lives in Wakefield, complained of being told by the app on his iPhone that his area is listed as being medium-risk, but that it is considered high-risk by version of the app on his Android device. By Saturday, the iPhone had corrected itself, he confirmed.

Meanwhile, users in London said the alert on their app had still not changed from medium to high in accordance with the tier 2 lockdown restrictions which came into effect at midnight on Friday.

Ian Grundy, who lives in the London borough of Hillingdon, said his app indicates his area is both high and medium risk.

In response a flurry of complaints on Twitter, the app’s official account pointed to a “frequently asked questions” page on the NHS website. The FAQs page explains that postcode districts do not map exactly to local authorities, and so more than one alert level may apply to a particular postcode district.

NHS COVID-19 app
(@NHSCOVID19app)

From this morning, #NHSCOVID19app users who live in a postcode district where the Local COVID Alert Level has been changed to reflect the latest Government guidance, you will receive an alert during the course of the day notifying you of the change.

➡️ https://t.co/rzgGGmuV13


October 17, 2020

On Saturday, it said users living in postcode districts where the alert level has been changed to reflect the latest government guidance would receive an alert during the course of the day notifying them of the change.

Previously the app had three alert levels: low, medium and high. These have now been updated to correspond with the medium, high and very high levels of the three-tier lockdown system introduced this week.


Jeremy Place, an information security specialist, told Sky News that as many as 4 million people could have been sent incorrect updates by what he described as “a fat-finger error”.

This probably happened when a blank file was accidentally sent to phones instead of an alert-level update, he said. Any phone receiving the empty file would have reverted to the old system, triggering a message saying “the risk level in your area has changed”.

A DHSC spokesperson said: “We are aware of an issue which impacted updates to postcode alerts for some app users this evening.

“This was identified and resolved within an hour and users’ phones will automatically update to show the correct local alert level for their area, along with new guidance.”



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Netflix stock should be avoided if lockdowns lift or a vaccine arrives

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A man watching Netflix on an Apple iPad Pro, taken on March 6, 2020.

Future Publishing | Getty Images

LONDON — Netflix shares should be avoided if there’s a coronavirus vaccine or if lockdowns lift, according to media analyst Alex DeGroote, who owns DeGroote Consulting.

Speaking to CNBC’s “Street Signs Europe” on Tuesday ahead of Netflix’s third-quarter results, DeGroote said: “I would have seen Netflix, frankly, as a stock to avoid, should there be, for example, a vaccine, or should lockdowns ease greatly.”

He added that the stricter lockdown initiatives being rolled out across Europe now “keeps people at home and that keeps them subscribing and less likely to churn.”

Competition in the streaming market has soared in recent months as other companies have launched their own offerings as part of an effort to capitalize on the pandemic. In addition to Amazon Prime, Apple TV, and YouTube Plus, there’s also new platforms like Disney+ and NBCUniversal’s Peacock service.

“The rule of thumb is the average household will take about three subscription services, but at the moment we have potentially up to eight services on offer,” said DeGroote. “There are just too many services for the budgets that most households have.”

DeGroote believes some streaming services may merge or get acquired next year, while others may shut down completely.

“I think probably into next year, things will start to get tough, and that’s when you might see M&A, or you might see some of the bigger operators, frankly pull their streaming services,” he said.

Discounts keep customers subscribed

Netflix recently changed its discounting policy from a one-month free trial in the U.S. and the U.K. to a 50% discount for the first two months.

DeGroote believes this was part of an effort to retain subscribers. “I would expect all the platform companies to be far more creative with their discounting over the next 12 to 18 months, as they try and strike a balance between critical mass, in terms of the subscriber base, and also frankly losing money,” he said.

“The reality is that for most streamers, these businesses are not yet profitable,” DeGroote added. “They won’t be profitable until they have subscriber bases of a certain size, paying a reliable monthly subscription. That’s probably a year down the line.”

Netflix shares have risen by more than 75% since March, which is when the coronavirus pandemic started to spread significantly in the West.

The company’s story has largely been about new subscriber growth but that may no longer be the case.

“In terms of Q3, the company has really quite skilfully guided down expectations,” said DeGroote. “The expectations over net new subs in Q3 are relatively low at about two and a half million so it is more about whether they can beat that number. For what it’s worth, I think they probably will.”

Patrick Armstrong, CIO of Plurimi Investment Managers, told CNBC’s “Squawk Box Europe” Tuesday that technology companies “are going to be winners in this environment.”

Disclosure: Peacock is the streaming service of NBCUniversal, parent company of CNBC.


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Apple Chinese users are mainly snapping up iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro

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Apple’s launch promotional material of the New iPhone12 Pro seen displayed on a mobile phone screen with an Apple logo in the background.

Pavlo Gonchar | LightRocket | Getty Images

GUANGZHOU, China — Chinese consumers have taken a liking to Apple’s new iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro, according to data provided to CNBC.

The two devices in Apple’s new 5G flagship lineup became available for pre-order on Oct. 16. As of 9:30 a.m. China time on Tuesday, 152,737 iPhone 12 units had been pre-ordered, data from Chinese e-commerce site and authorized Apple reseller Fenqile showed.

Fenqile is also taking pre-orders for the iPhone 12 Mini and iPhone 12 Pro Max, even though they’re not officially available until November.

Out of all the pre-ordered iPhones, nearly 43% are iPhone 12 models and over 28% are iPhone 12 Pro models. Just under 19% are iPhone 12 Pro Max orders and nearly 10% are orders for the iPhone 12 Mini, the device with the smallest screen in the lineup.

The Fenqile data comes after a new note from Ming-Chi Kuo, an analyst at TF International Securities, known for his accurate predictions on Apple products and sales.

Kuo reported that Apple sold up to 2 million iPhone 12 units in the first 24 hours, up from 800,000 units of the iPhone 11. He also said that iPhone 12 Pro sold better than expected and that China represented 35% to 45% of that model’s demand.

Indeed, on Apple’s official China website, the iPhone 12 Pro had a delivery time of three to four weeks, higher than the two to three weeks for the base iPhone 12 models. Delivery times for devices can often indicate which models are most popular.

Kuo also predicted that the iPhone 12 Mini wouldn’t sell well in China due to its smaller screen, in a market where larger displays are more popular. On Fenqile, the iPhone 12 Mini has the least amount of pre-orders.

The latest figures will be encouraging for Apple given the importance of the Chinese market to the company but also the high expectations that the iPhone 12 range will spur an upgrade “supercycle.”

Apple’s iPhone 12 64GB in blue makes up 20% of pre-orders on Fenqile with the iPhone 12 Pro 128GB Pacific Blue variant making up 11%. These are the two most popular models.

The Cupertino, California giant has been quite aggressive on pricing. The iPhone 12 Pro is cheaper than last year’s iPhone 11 starting price upon release in China.

“Consumers are looking for the best deal now, even before the pandemic. And both the iPhone 12 and 12 Pro models could provide them favorable prices and screen size experience,” Will Wong, research manager at IDC, told CNBC.

“The iPhone 12 allows consumers to get the first 5G iPhone with more acceptable prices and specs, while iPhone 12 Pro could provide the ‘Pro’ experience to consumers with more affordable prices too.”


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Why won’t Virgin Media complete my broadband installation? | Money

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I have been trying to switch to Virgin broadband because it is by far the fastest in my area. The installation was booked for mid-August and, as at that point a full connection was not possible, we were connected to our neighbour’s cable with their consent.

Since then, Virgin Media claims it is unable to complete my installation or deal with problems with the service. Apparently its system shows the installation as complete and our account as active. In addition, the company has repeatedly failed to phone when promised, turn up in the agreed time slot, arrive at the right address or provide any explanation for anything. I am unsure what to do next, other than to send another complaint.

HB, Birmingham

Virgin Media told us it had to wait for a permit, which delayed completion of the required works, but it should have communicated this to you. It has now done this and installed cables direct to your property so your broadband service is up and running.

Having checked the quality of your connection and where you had blackspots, it offered to send wifi boosters, but you have declined and plan to buy your own. The company has written to you to apologise and offered to credit your first three months’ worth of bills. In addition, it has offered you £30 credit as a gesture of goodwill for the time taken to resolve this issue, which you have accepted.

A Virgin Media spokesperson said: “We apologise to HB for her poor experience and the delay in installing her services. We have now completed her installation and credited her account as a gesture of goodwill.”We welcome letters but cannot answer individually. Email us at [email protected]. Please include a daytime phone number. Submission and publication of all letters is subject to our terms and conditions: http://gu.com/letters-terms


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