Monday 5 October 2020 / 5:01 PM Coronavirus / Jonathan Ashworth

Labour demand answers on testing fiasco, as new analysis reveals up to 48,000 people were not traced

Jonathan Ashworth MP, Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary, responding to Matt Hancock’s statement in the House of Commons today, demanded answers on the recent data problems with Covid-19 testing that saw almost 16,000 positive cases missed from the system, and their contacts not told to self-isolate.

It comes as new analysis by Labour reveals that as many as 48,000 people were not traced.

Saying the government is ‘failing on the basics,’ Ashworth said:

“This is not just a shambles, it’s so much worse than that.”

“And it gives me no comfort to say it – it’s putting lives at risk, and he should apologise.”

Ashworth asked the Health Secretary:

  1. How many of these 16,000 people with have been spoken to by tracers and handed over contacts? How many of the contacts have now been traced? And how many are isolating?
  2. Why did nobody notice this issue until Friday night?
  3. Will areas that have seen an increase in their infection rate, and others under restriction now be given extra help and resources to battle this virus, as because of this national blunder the local authorities didn’t realise what the true picture locally was?

Pointing to the number of people typically in contact with a positive person, Ashworth also asked the Health Secretary for an explanation of the number of people missed from contact tracing, which could mean as many as 48,000 contacts haven’t been traced.

Ashworth also revealed the impact the data issues have had on local infection rates, including in areas currently not under local restrictions, with many local authorities experiencing significant jumps.

According to data published on 4 October, the corrected data for 27 September has increased infection rates significantly when compared to the originally published data:

  1. The infection rate in Manchester jumped from 238 cases per 100,000 people to 295 per 100,000 (an increase of 58)
  2. The infection rate in South Tyneside jumped from 177 cases per 100,000 people to 211 cases per 100,000 (an increase of 34)
  3. The infection rate in Hartlepool jumped from 121 cases per 100,000 people to 147 per 100,000 (an increase of 27)
  4. The infection rate in Newark and Sherwood jumped from 65 cases per 100,000 people to 73 cases per 100,000 (an increase of 8)
  5. The infection rate in Burnley jumped from 334 cases per 100,000 people to 363 cases per 100,000 (an increase of 30)