Home Coronavirus: News and Advice For the record: technical error hides true number of COVID-19 cases in Knowsley 
For the record

For the record: technical error hides true number of COVID-19 cases in Knowsley 

by Gemma Melling

A technical error in the Government’s Test and Trace system came to light over the weekend – the national error means that the true number of positive COVID-19 tests in Knowsley and across the country is even higher than previously thought.

Public Health England have confirmed that, across the country, 15,841 cases between 25 September and 2 October 2020 were left out of the daily case figures due to what they describe as a “a technical glitch”.

Some of these cases related to people in Knowsley – and now that the missing figures have been discovered and added to the borough’s tally, Knowsley’s current rate of infection stands at 498.3 for every 100,000 people in the population.  This is a significant increase on the numbers recorded last week, which already stood at Knowsley’s highest recorded level to date at 297 per 100,000.

Just over a month ago (2 September), Knowsley’s rate stood at 21.9 per 100,000.

Sadly – health experts now predict that the number of positive cases will continue to rise as the trend indicates that infection rates are still growing quickly.

And, whilst the individuals who tested positive were informed that they had the virus – the technical error meant that there was also a delay in tracing their close contacts. This means that potentially infected people could have unknowingly passed on COVID-19 in our communities, because they weren’t told to self-isolate.

Councillor Graham Morgan, Leader of Knowsley Council, said: “This is another blow to our confidence in the national systems which are supposed to be supporting our local efforts to tackle COVID-19.  I’m at a loss as to how such a significant mistake could have been made and I’m seriously concerned about the potential impact from the lack of any contact tracing in these cases.

“As local leaders, we are battling to control this pandemic in our communities.  We are making decisions on a daily basis which impact on people’s lives, livelihoods, education and health. We are asking people to make serious sacrifices, and the very least that we should expect is that the data is accurate.”

He added: “Last week, this borough was already recording the highest rate of infection in the country for COVID-19. Now we find out that our true rates were, in fact, almost twice that much. This is just not good enough and has a huge impact on how we manage this crisis locally.  What we’re learning is that a swift response is crucial in this pandemic – delays like this are unforgivable.”

Public Health England says all of the data which had been missed has now been added to the daily case totals and that all outstanding cases have been passed to contact tracers.

Councillor Morgan added: “Our rates of infection were extremely worrying even before we had these missing cases added. Now those numbers are even more stark – and the need to take significant steps to control the spread of this virus is clearer and more immediate than ever.”