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In UK, missing COVID-19 tests data sparks outrage

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Ministers and Public Health officials in England have come under severe criticism over delays in getting data to the right places.

  Ministers are facing questions over the Leicester lockdown this morning following  discovery of 90 per cent coronavirus test figures ‘missing’ from published data in Leicester City.

According to Financial Times report, the British Medical Association (BMA) has called on ministers to step up actions in ensuring that local authorities are given up-to-date figures to help them contain the spread of the virus.

“Leicester recorded just 80 new positive tests between June 13 and June 26 but the complete figure for that period was in fact 944, leaving huge amount of testing data not being made public by the government.” Minister of State, Matt Hancock said.

  nMedia report indicates that official statistics ‘dashboard’ set up by the government last week when the daily coronavirus briefing was cancelled only publishes data from ‘pillar 1 testing’ at a local level.

 “That means it only includes swab tests performed in hospitals for people with ‘clinical need’ and staff.

Test results from centres outside of hospitals – like mobile and drive-through test centres, and at-home testing – are known as ‘pillar 2’ testing.” Financial Times reported.

  The British Health Secretary emphasised that Pillar 2 testing makes up around 90 per cent of test results but failed to be reflected on the dashboard or even routinely shared with mayors and local councils.

  They are available to local health officials – but critics say that’s not good enough to help local authorities keep tabs on local outbreaks.

According to Labour MP, Yvette Cooper in her tweeter post, “health authorities in in Wakefield, West Yorkshire, had been trying to get hold of local Pillar 2 testing data but had not succeeded.”

“Our local public health teams, council, NHS doctors and managers in Wakefield have had to fight for months to try to get this data.

“In public health crisis, most important thing is knowing where infection is. Appalling and incomprehensible that basic info hasn’t been provided.

  “The idea this could have been ministerial choice rather than failure of competence is even more shocking.” She stated.

Adding, “what on earth is going on? Transparency and trust are basic currencies for dealing with public health crises.”

She appealed to government not to keep screwing up the process.

Leicester mayor, Sir Peter Soulsby has joined in the criticism of government and Public Health England (PHE) for delays in sharing case and testing data which showed how the disease was spreading.

According to him, he had been trying “for weeks” to access data on the level of testing in the city and was only given access last Thursday.

  “The Secretary of State, Matt Hancock announced that he believed there was an outbreak in Leicester the best part of two weeks ago.

“Since then, we’ve been struggling to get information from the government about what data they had, what led them to believe there was a particular problem here, and struggling to get them to keep the level of testing in Leicester.”

  He added he has been trying “for weeks” to access data on the level of testing in the city and was only given access last Thursday. Soulsby noted.

According to the Department of Health and Social Care, “We have been working closely with our local partners, providing them with the resources and tools so that they can take swift action to deal with any new local spikes in infections.”

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