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Nearly 16,000 coronavirus cases left out of UK's daily figures between 25 September and 2 October

PHE chief exec says ‘technical issue’ caused unreported coronavirus cases

Public Health England’s (PHE) interim chief executive Michael Brodie said that a ‘technical issue’ caused nearly 16,000 coronavirus cases to be left out of the UK’s daily figures between 25 September and 2 October.

According to PHE, 15,841 positive coronavirus cases were missing from the UK daily case figures within the above time period, although the health agency maintained that all individuals who tested positive had been informed.

However, the technical issue caused a delay in contact tracing of those individuals who had come into close contact with people who had tested positive for COVID-19 in the same week.

On top of that, the error also means that the total daily case figures reported on the government’s coronavirus dashboard for the week beginning 25 September have not represented the true number of positive cases in the UK

Brodie said that the issue was identified overnight on 2 October, with the error occurring in the process that transfers COVID-19 positive lab results into reporting dashboards, with the majority of these unreported cases having taken place in the “most recent days”, according to the BBC.

He added that PHE had 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".

NHS Test and Trace and PHE’s joint medical advisor Susan Hopkins said: “All outstanding cases were immediately transferred to the contact tracing system by 1am on 3 October and a thorough public health risk assessment was undertaken to ensure outstanding cases were prioritised for contact tracing effectively.”

“The advice remains the same. If you have tested positive you must self-isolate immediately for at least ten days from when your symptoms began and we urge everyone who is contacted by NHS Test and Trace to provide details of their recent contacts,” she added.

This most recent issue comes as both PHE and NHS Test and Trace undergo heightened scrutiny over the effectiveness of the testing and contact tracing strategy in England.

In August, the UK government announced that PHE is set to be replaced with a new organisation, after criticism over how the agency handled the UK’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

This criticism was particularly aimed at the government’s handling of community testing and tracing, as well as its methods of counting coronavirus-related deaths.

Article by
Lucy Parsons

5th October 2020

From: Healthcare

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