COVID Test error ‘should never have happened’ – Hancock.
The health secretary has said a technical glitch that saw nearly 16,000 Covid-19 cases go unreported in England “should never have happened”.
The error meant that although those who tested positive were told about their results, their close contacts were not traced.
By Monday afternoon, around half of those who tested positive had yet to be asked about their close contacts.
Labour said the missing results were “putting lives at risk”.
Experts advise that ideally contacts should be tracked down within 48 hours.
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The technical error was caused by some Microsoft Excel data files exceeding the maximum size after they were sent from NHS Test and Trace to Public Health England.
It meant 15,841 cases between 25 September and 2 October were left out of the UK daily case figures.
PHE said the error itself, discovered overnight on Friday, has been fixed, and outstanding cases had been passed on to tracers by 01:00 BST on Saturday.
But Health Secretary Matt Hancock told MPs the incident as a whole had not yet been resolved – with only 51% of those whose positive results were caught up in the glitch now reached by contact tracers.
He said it had “not substantially changed” the government’s assessment of the epidemic, however, and had “not impacted the basis on which decisions about local action were taken”.
He also said outbreak control in care homes, schools and hospitals had not been directly affected, as they do not rely on the data in question.
“This incident should never have happened. But the team have acted swiftly to minimise its impact,” he added.
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