A technical glitch resulted in 15,841 COVID-19 cases being left out of the UK’s recorded daily figures.
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According to Public Health England, the number was left out of daily reported figures released between 25th September and 2nd October. Following the IT malfunction, PHE said all those who tested positive had been informed. However, those who are assumed to be in close contact with those with positive results had not been told, as these positive results weren't fed into the Track and Trace system.
This means the Government reported figures over the past week have been much lower than the actual number of cases in the UK at present.
BBC health editor Hugh Pym said the actual figures reported at the end of last week would have been closer to 11,000 rather than the 7,000 officially recorded.
Given the criticism and concerns surrounding the Track and Trace system, as well as reports the system was struggling to keep up with demand, Pym told the BBC, "The latest revelation could not have come at a more awkward moment for the government at Westminster."
The glitch was reportedly caused by the data files uploaded to the system, with the files reporting positive test results bigger than the maximum file size allowed by the data capturing facility.
The interim chief executive of Public Health England, Michael Brodie, told the BBC that the team at PHE worked with the NHS Test and Trace system to "quickly resolve the issue and transferred all outstanding cases immediately into the NHS Test and Trace contact tracing system".
He continued to add, "We fully understand the concern this may cause and further robust measures have been put in place as a result."
PHE has also told the BBC that, in a combined effort with the NHS, they have ensured sufficient contact tracers are working throughout the day. They are also working with local teams to ensure they have enough resources to be able to contact all cases in urgent circumstances.
In relation to this issue, Rishi Sunak's Eat Out to Help Out scheme has also come under great scrutiny recently, with many accusing the scheme of being a significant contributor to the uptick in cases. Sunak, in an interview with the Sun, responded with a statement saying he had "no regrets" regarding the scheme’s implementation.