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British officials investigating reporting glitch

LONDON — The British government has launched an investigation into how nearly 16,000 new coronavirus infections went unreported as a result of a technical glitch.

The failing could have given fresh impetus to the country’s coronavirus outbreak and ultimately to an uptick in deaths.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock told lawmakers Monday that 51% of those cases have now been contacted by contact tracers.

Hancock’s statement came after the weekend disclosure that a total of 15,841 virus cases weren’t tabulated from Sept. 25 to Oct. 2.

Jonathan Ashworth, Labour’s spokesman on health issues, slammed the government for its latest failing on testing “at one of the most crucial points in the pandemic.”


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HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:

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Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

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HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

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RIVERSIDE, Calif. — Pastor Greg Laurie of the prominent California-based church Harvest Christian Fellowship confirmed he has tested positive for COVID-19.

Laurie said in an Instagram posting Monday that he tested positive on Friday and has been in quarantine since then with his wife, but so far all members of his family have tested negative.

“My symptoms have been mild so far, and I expect to make a full recovery,” he wrote. “I have always taken the Coronavirus seriously, and it has tragically taken many lives. At a time like this, we need to pray for those that have it and avoid politicizing it. If our President and First Lady can get COVID-19, clearly anyone can.”

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MONTPELIER, Vt. — A total of 26 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Vermont were in workers at Champlain Orchards, in Shoreham, the Vermont Health Department confirmed Monday as the state reported its largest one-day increase in cases since June 3.

The Health commissioner and Agriculture secretary planned a news conference in the afternoon to discuss the state’s investigation into the outbreak.

The cases linked to the orchard made up a majority of the 33 new confirmed cases the state reported Monday.

The total of number of deaths from COVID-19 in Vermont has remained at 58 for over two months.

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JOHANNESBURG — African governments have worked together to launch a digital platform to inform travelers about COVID-19 travel restrictions across the continent, as many countries ease restrictions on international travel.

Still reeling from nearly six months of a ban on international travel to avoid the spread of the coronavirus, major airports on the continent have now resumed international flights, but with specific restrictions.

The #Trusted Travel, My COVID Pass, will provide travelers in Africa with information about what requirements they will face going

England lost 16,000 new coronavirus cases, blames computer glitch

The glitch was no mere rounding error in the government’s accounting, but another serious stumble at a crucial moment, when the British government is daily trying to decide where to tighten regional lockdowns to slow a second wave of the virus.

After the error was spotted and the lost cases accounted for, the government’s report of new daily infections nearly doubled — from 12,872 on Saturday to 22,961 on Sunday — sparking renewed angst among officials in London and England’s north, where most of the new cases were centered.

Michael Brodie, the interim head of Public Health England, said the issue was identified late Friday in the computer process that communicates positive results from labs to the country’s reporting dashboards. Some data files containing positive results had exceeded the maximum file size, he said, according to the BBC.

“We fully understand the concern this may cause,” Brodie added, “and further robust measures have been put in place as a result.”

While health authorities said the glitch had not affected the pandemic response at the local level, 10 Downing Street announced an investigation and politicians in the opposition Labour Party described the episode as “shambolic.”

Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson told the Guardian newspaper the missing data was the latest in a “pandemic of incompetence from the government.”

Anderson said, “There are mistakes and there are really serious mistakes. This is a highly significant mistake that tells me the system is not fit for purpose.”

Paul Hunter, a professor of health protection at the University of East Anglia, told BBC Radio, “I think the thing that surprised me was the size of it — almost 16,000 results — going missing over the course of a week is quite alarming, I think.”

Hunter said for contact tracing to effective, people who were in proximity with those who test positive need to be reached quickly.

“And the reason is that we know now that this infection is most infectious at around the time people develop symptoms — so very early on in the illness,” he said. “It really needs to be done within a matter of a day or so if you’re going to actually have any effect.”

The error delivered another significant blow to the public perceptions of British’s stuttering contact tracing efforts, which critics say are already too far slow to properly track the spread of the outbreak.

Armus reported from Washington.

Source Article

Missing COVID-19 tests glitch ’caused by large Excel file’

Thousands of coronavirus cases were missed because of an IT glitch, it has emerged. (PA)
Thousands of coronavirus cases were missed because of an IT glitch, it has emerged. (PA)

Almost 16,000 cases of coronavirus in the UK went unreported because of a glitch caused by an Excel spreadsheet, it has been reported.

Public Health England (PHE) said 15,841 daily COVID-19 cases between 25 September and 2 October had been left out of UK totals.

The error has caused delays in tracking the contacts of people who tested positive.

On Monday, the Press Association (PA) news agency reported that the problem was caused by a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet reaching its maximum file size.

It has been reported that the IT glitch was caused by a Microsoft Excel file that was too large. (Getty Images)
It has been reported that the IT glitch was caused by a Microsoft Excel file that was too large. (Getty Images)

This prevented new names being added in an automated process, it said.

PA said files have now been split into smaller batches to prevent the error from happening again.

Previously, PHE said the issue was caused by some data files reporting positive test results exceeding the maximum file size.

Meanwhile, a government minister defended the error, saying: “We can’t change history”.

Watch: Minister unable to give number affected by glitch

Work and pensions secretary Thérèse Coffey told BBC1’s Breakfast programme she did not know how many potentially infectious contacts of COVID-19 patients were not traced because of the glitch.

“I’m afraid I just don’t have that information,” she said.

She also admitted that people may have been infected because the NHS Test and Trace scheme was not aware of the unreported cases.

Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said of the glitch: “This is shambolic and people across the country will be understandably alarmed.”

He called on health secretary Matt Hancock to go to the House of Commons on Monday and explain “what on earth has happened, what impact it has had on our ability to contain this virus and what he plans to do to fix test and trace”.

The glitch means the daily coronavirus totals published on the government’s COVID-19 dashboard in the past week have been lower than the real numbers.

The unreported numbers were included instead in Saturday and Sunday’s totals of 12,872 and 22,961 cases respectively.

People have been urged to download the NHS COVID-19 app to help track the spread of coronavirus. (PA)
People have been urged to download the NHS COVID-19 app to help track the spread of coronavirus. (PA)

A note on the government dashboard said: “The cases by publish date for 3 and 4 October include 15,841 additional cases with specimen dates between 25 September and 2 October – they are therefore artificially high for England and the UK.”

Michael Brodie, the interim chief executive at PHE, said the “technical issue” was identified overnight on Friday, 2 October, in the data load process that transfers COVID-19 positive lab results into reporting dashboards.

“NHS Test and Trace and PHE have worked to quickly resolve the issue and transferred all outstanding cases immediately into the NHS Test and Trace contact tracing system and I would like to thank contact tracing and health protection colleagues for their additional efforts over the weekend,”