Minister admits more could be infected over tracing shambles as contacts not told for a WEEK

MORE people could have been infected as a result of the test and trace error which saw thousands of cases not registered last week, a minister admitted today.

Therese Coffey told Sky News "there may well be" even more cases now as a result of the shambles which saw 15,000 cases not put in the official figures.

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This mean thousands of people's contacts were not traced, possibly allowing them to spread the virus further.

It was revealed that because the test results were not put into the track and trace system, the contacts of people who had tested positive were not told-meaning people went about their daily lives and did not isolate when they needed to.

Matt Hancock will give a statement on the chaos in the House of Commons later.

All cases were passed on to tracers by 1am on Saturday, meaning potential delays of more than a week in contacting thousands of people who were exposed to the virus and telling them to self-isolate.

The total number of lab-confirmed cases in the UK has now passed 500,000 since the outbreak began, according to the Government's dashboard.

It comes after yesterday's sharp rise of 12,872 new cases was blamed on a "technical issue".

Ms Coffey this morning blamed an "IT failure" for the errors.

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

It comes as:

  • The head of the UK's vaccine taskforce admitted only half of people would get it
  • Boris Johnson warns of ‘tough’ Christmas and beyond but gives hope of vaccine progress in weeks
  • The highest ever increase in daily coronavirus cases down to delayed recording of positive tests from 7 days earlier
  • A three-tier lockdown is planned for England which may include the closure of pubs and a ban on all social contact outside household groups, as revealed by The Sun last week

Interim Chief Executive of PHE Michael Brodie said: "A technical issue was identified overnight on Friday October 2 in the data load process that transfers Covid-19 positive lab results into reporting dashboards.

"After rapid investigation, we have identified that 15,841 cases between September 25 and October 2 were not included in the reported daily Covid-19 cases.

"The majority of these cases occurred in most recent days.

“Every one of these cases received their Covid-19 test result as normal and all those who tested positive who were advised to self-isolate.

“NHS Test and Trace and PHE have worked to quickly resolve the issue and transferred all outstanding cases immediately into the NHS Test and Trace contact tracing system and I would like to thank contact tracing and health protection colleagues for their additional efforts over the weekend.

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

Almost 16,000 cases not included in daily stats

PHE provided a breakdown of the cases that were left out:

  • 957 cases on September 25, when the figure given was 6,874
  • 744 on September 26, when the figure given was 6,042
  • 757 on September 27, when the figure given was 5,693
  • none on September 28, when the figure given was 4,044
  • 1,415 on September 29, when the figure given was 7,143
  • 3,049 on September 30, when the figure given was 7,108
  • 4,133 on October 1, when the figure given was 6,914
  • 4,786 on October 2, when the figure given was 6,968

Work and Pensions Secretary Ms Coffey was unable to say how many close contacts of coronavirus cases were not contacted.

And the Cabinet minister was also unable to say whether those contacts had now been traced following the error, saying: "I'm afraid I just don't have that information."

She told BBC Breakfast: "I'm conscious that PHE (Public Health England) had this glitch but they identified it so it is being rectified so we can get those contacts potentially into the system and being contacted as is appropriate and decided by the test and trace regime.

"We can't change the recent history, PHE will make sure that this sort of error doesn't happen again but they did pick up this error and I think they've acted quickly to rectify it."

Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said: "This is shambolic and people across the country will be understandably alarmed."

A chart pulled together using government statistics reveals October 3's figure was boosted by thousands of delayed positive results.

Professor Graham Medley, an attendee of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, tweeted: "Reporting delays play havoc with data streams and make them very difficult to analyse in real time.

"If the delays change or vary by group then they can distort a lot. Wonder what these will do to the R estimates next week."

Asked about the issue on the BBC's Andrew Marr show this morning, Boris Johnson said the "failure in the counting system has now been rectified."

He described it as a "computing issue".

The PM added that all people who had a positive result have now been informed.

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