Leicester lockdown questions as 90% of coronavirus tests ‘missing’ from published data

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Ministers face questions over the Leicester lockdown this morning after it emerged 90% of coronavirus testing figures were ‘missing’ from published data.

The British Medical Association (BMA) implored ministers to ensure local leaders were given up-to-date figures so they can help contain the spread of the virus.

And it has been reported huge amounts of testing data – is not being made public by the government.

According to the Financial Times, published data for Leicester recorded just 80 new positive tests between June 13 and June 26.

But Matt Hancock revealed the complete figure for that period was in fact 944.

The 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.

Pillar 2 testing makes up around 90% of test results – and aren’t included on the dashboard.

Neither are they 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.

Labour MP Yvette Cooper tweeted that health authorities in her constituency in Wakefield, West Yorkshire, had been trying to get hold of local Pillar 2 testing data but had not been able to.

She tweeted: “Our local public health teams, council, NHS doctors & 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 & 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.

“What on earth is going on? Transparency & trust are basic currencies for dealing with public health crises. Pls, pls Govt, don’t keep screwing this up.”

Leicester mayor Sir Peter Soulsby criticised the Government and Public Health England (PHE) for delays in sharing case and testing data which showed how the disease was spreading.

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

Sir Peter said: “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 them (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.

The Department of Health and Social Care told the FT: “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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