A test and trace error recorded students as living at their parents’ address rather than their term-time lodgings at university. This meant some university cities were given the wrong information about the severity of the virus in their areas. A total of 22,409 test results were recorded in the wrong location, according to new Public Health England data that has been corrected. This also meant hundreds more cases occurred in areas including Nottingham, Newcastle and Manchester.
They also all had higher rates than Liverpool when it was placed into Tier 3 restrictions on October 14.
The figures were corrected on Monday night by PHE.
But Professor Carl Heneghan, director of the Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine at the University of Oxford, said: “This is unacceptable.
“We’re making huge decisions on the basis that we have accurate information, yet there continue to be problems with the data.
Coronavirus news: PHE recorded cases in the wrong locations
“These inaccuracies are often being used to drive policies which are affecting people’s livelihoods and well-being.
“It can have a damaging effect both ways, with some places ending up in tougher restrictions than they need, while other areas left with a false sense of reassurance.”
Both Nottingham and Newcastle saw increases of more than 200 per 100,000 population in the week before the tier restrictions were introduced.
However, they stayed in Tier 2.
The figures were corrected on Monday night by PHE
And between October 5 and 11, Newcastle recorded 1,416 cases, however the correct figure was actually 2,104.
Nottingham initially recorded 3,091 cases in the city, but the actual number was 4,049.
This meant Newcastle’s case rate rose from 467 per 100,000 to 694 per 100,000, while Nottingham rose from 929 per 100,000 to 1,216.
Dr Yvonne Doyle, medical director at PHE, told the Telegraph: “We have updated the way we record the location of people who test positive for coronavirus to prioritise addresses given at point of testing, rather than details registered on the NHS database.
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“This better reflects the distribution of positive cases in recent weeks and months, particularly among younger people of university age who may not have yet registered with a GP at their term-time address.
“This has not affected any decision about local and national restrictions, which take into account a wider range of evidence.”
PHE and the Joint Biosecurity Centre (JBC) added they analysed the new case data to see if it would change any decisions about local and national restrictions.
They said: “The conclusion is that recording location based on the NHS database has not affected any such decisions which take into account a wider range of evidence, including the test positivity rate, an assessment of the local response and plans, and the trend of other metrics, such as healthcare activity and mortality are all considered.”
PHE said they analysed the new case data to see if it would change any decisions
There have been 68,000 deaths involving the virus in the UK.
This is according to figures published by the UK’s statistics agencies for deaths where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate, together with additional data on deaths in recent days,
Conservative MP Adam Afriyie (Windsor) proposed ministers must disclose the health and economic costs when seeking to introduce new Covid-19 restrictions in future.
He said: “I’d ask the Government to prepare a clear cost benefit analysis of any future proposed regulations – both in terms of the health costs and benefits in the short-term and the long-term, and also the economic costs and benefits in the short-term and long-term.
“Clearly the two are intricately connected but I think it’s very important that this House, MPs and decision-makers do have clear sight of what the overall costs and benefits are.”
— to www.express.co.uk