Covid: 16,000 coronavirus cases missed in daily figures after IT error


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PA Media

A technical glitch that meant nearly 16,000 cases of coronavirus went unreported has delayed efforts to trace contacts of people who tested positive.

Public Health England said 15,841 cases between 25 September and 2 October were left out of the UK daily case figures.

They were then added in to reach Saturday’s figure of 12,872 new cases and Sunday’s 22,961 figure.

PHE said all those who tested positive had been informed. But it means others in close contact with them were not.

The issue has been resolved, PHE said, with outstanding cases passed on to tracers by 01:00 BST on Saturday.

The technical issue also means that the daily case totals reported on the government’s coronavirus dashboard over the past week have been lower than the true number.

BBC health editor Hugh Pym said daily figures for the end of the week were “actually nearer 11,000”, rather than the about 7,000 reported.

Labour has described the glitch as “shambolic”.

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Media captionBoris Johnson: “I can’t give you those figures but all those people are being contacted”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the cases data had been “truncated” and “lost”, but added all people who had tested positive had been contacted and the tracers were “now working through all the contacts”.

Meanwhile, the head of the government’s vaccine taskforce, Kate Bingham, has told the Financial Times that less than half of the UK population could be vaccinated against coronavirus.

“There is going to be no vaccination of people under 18,” she said. “It’s an adult-only vaccine for people over 50, focusing on health workers, care home workers and the vulnerable.”

Mr Johnson has warned it could be “bumpy through to Christmas” and beyond as the UK deals with coronavirus.

Speaking to the BBC’s Andrew Marr on Sunday, the PM said there was “hope” of beating Covid, and called on the public to “act fearlessly but with common sense”.

In an interview with the Sun, Rishi Sunak has defended his Eat Out to Help Out scheme, saying he had “no regrets”, after suggestions it may have helped fuel the second wave of coronavirus cases.

At a time when the testing system has come under intense scrutiny after reports of delays and a system struggling to keep up with demand, the latest revelation could not have come at a more awkward moment for the government at Westminster.

Because the nearly 16,000 extra positive test results had been not entered into the test and trace system, their recent contacts were not immediately followed up.

Experts advise that ideally contacts should be tracked down within 48 hours.

Officials say the technical problem – thought to be IT related – has been resolved, with all the new cases added into totals reported over the weekend.

But all this will hardly improve public confidence in the testing system in England.

And it muddies the waters for policy makers and officials trying to track the spread of the virus at what the prime minister has called a “critical moment”.

On Sunday, the government’s coronavirus dashboard said that, as of 09:00 BST, there had been a further 22,961 lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK, bringing the total number of cases in the UK to 502,978.

Another 33 people were reported to have died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Sunday.

Public Health England’s interim chief executive Michael Brodie said a “technical issue” was identified overnight on Friday, 2 October in the process that transfers Covid-19 positive lab results into reporting dashboards. He said the majority of the unreported cases had occurred in the “most recent days”.

It was caused by some data files reporting positive test results exceeding the maximum file size.

Mr Brodie said they worked with NHS Test and Trace to “quickly resolve the issue and transferred all outstanding cases immediately into the NHS Test and Trace contact tracing system”.

“We fully understand the concern this may cause and further robust measures have been put in place as a result,” he said.



Read More: Covid: 16,000 coronavirus cases missed in daily figures after IT error

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