The British government is investigating how a technical error caused nearly 16,000 new cases of COVID-19 to go unreported.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock told British lawmakers that contact tracers have contacted 51% of the missed cases, the Associated Press reported. A total of 15,841 were not recorded between Sept. 25 to Oct. 2.
Public Health England said those who tested positive were contacted, but no contact tracing was performed, the AP added.
“This is a serious issues which is being investigated fully,” Hancock said. “Now it is critical we work together to put it right and make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
After adding the previously unreported cases, Saturday’s case count rose to 12,872 and Sunday’s 22, 961 according to the AP. Monday’s reported cases dropped to 12,594. (RELATED: UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson Orders New Restrictions As COVID-19 Cases Surge)
British Labor Party spokesman John Ashworth said that the error could have led to thousands being “blissfully unaware they’ve been exposed to COVID, potentially spreading this deadly virus at a time when hospital admissions are increasing and we are in the second wave.”
“This isn’t just a shambles — it’s so much worse than this — and it gives me no comfort to say this, but it’s putting lives at risk,” Ashworth added.
Nearly 16,000 coronavirus cases went unreported in England due to a technical glitch, delaying contact tracing efforts
Some close contacts of positive cases could have been unknowingly spreading the infection for dayshttps://t.co/Al0ERCAFUE
— BBC News (UK) (@BBCNews) October 5, 2020
The unreported cases add to the list of issues with Britain’s testing and tracing system, the AP noted. The government has already been criticized for delayed notification and limited number of tests.
Paul Hunter, a professor in medicine at the University of East Anglia told the AP that the technical glitch was “very disappointing.”
“For the test, track and trace system to have a real impact on reducing transmission of COVID-19, it is essential that test results are communicated rapidly,” he said.