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Thousands of Covid cases were assigned to wrong place in major Track and Trace blunder

THOUSANDS of Covid cases were assigned to the wrong parts of the country in a major Test and Trace blunder.

Infections were recorded to the address in a patient’s NHS records, rather than where they were actually living.

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AFP or licensors
Thousands of Covid cases were assigned to the wrong place on the NHS tracking app[/caption]

Experts warn towns and cities may have been incorrectly declared hotspots and subjected to harsher restrictions.

Others may have missed out on the targeted action needed to get an outbreak under control.

Officials say one in eight cases were added to the wrong local authority in the six weeks before tiered restrictions were imposed.

And they identified a particular issue with university students, who were often linked to their family home instead of term-time digs.

The error has seen hundreds more cases added to Nottingham, Newcastle and Manchester.

And it now means they all had higher rates than Liverpool did when it was placed into Tier 3 restrictions on October 14.

Both Nottingham and Newcastle saw increases of more than 200 per 100,000 people in the week before tiers were introduced. But they both remained in Tier 2.

Newcastle fared worse in the reallocation, with its cases from September 1 to November 15 rocketing 28 per cent from 9,766 to 12,460.

Ashley Kirk
University students in particular were linked to their family homes[/caption]
Rex Features
Prof Carl Heneghan says ‘we’re making huge decisions on the basis that we have accurate information, yet there continue to be problems with the data’[/caption]

Richmondshire, in North Yorkshire, saw its number fall more than anywhere else, from 677 to 553, over this period.

Other university towns such as Bristol, York and Leeds have also seen a large rise in cases.


But small towns, where the students originate from, experienced a fall.

Prof Carl Heneghan, from 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.

“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.”

Public Health England have now corrected the problem.

Dr Yvonne Doyle, Medical Director at PHE, said: “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.


“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.”

The issue comes after nearly 16,000 cases were previously not entered into the test and trace system due to a file problem.

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