People 'shouldn't read too much' into missed Covid cases, Jeremy Hunt says

5 October 2020, 20:32 | Updated: 6 October 2020, 17:10

Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

People should "not read too much" into the 16,000 missed Covid cases, former health secretary Jeremy Hunt has said.

The the ghair of the Health Select Committee suggested to LBC's Tom Swarbrick that glitches would be inevitable while the UK expands its testing capacity but that "it's important not to read too much into this week's particular events".

It comes after Health Secretary Matt Hancock told the Commons on Monday that half of the 16,000 missing coronavirus cases have been contacted for a second time by Test and Trace.

On Monday, Public Health England (PHE) apologised for the technical glitch that saw cases between 25 September and 2 October being left out of the reported daily infection figures.

It meant that daily totals reported on the government's coronavirus dashboard over the last week have been lower than the true number.

The problem was reportedly caused by an Excel spreadsheet reaching its maximum file size, which stopped new names being added in an automated process.

Read more: Only half of 'missing' Covid cases contacted by Test and Trace

Read more: Excel spreadsheet blamed for 16,000 missed Covid-19 cases

Jeremy Hunt suggested glitches are inevitable while the UK expands its testing capacity
Jeremy Hunt suggested glitches are inevitable while the UK expands its testing capacity. Picture: LBC

Asked if the issue with the Test and Trace system had left more people in harm's way, Mr Hunt said: "I think it's important not to read too much into this week's particular events.

"There's a massive expansion of testing going on. The reality is we're testing three times more than we were in the early summer and we're going to double it again by the end of this month.

"When you're doing that kind of expansion, you are going to have glitches.

"My question I really want to ask is: 'Given that we seem to be having quite a lot of these glitches happening, even when we get to 500,000 tests a day by the end of October, will we have cracked the problem?'

"I think we will still have more people wanting tests than we're able to supply tests and that's why I'm saying we need to have a look at the structures."

Watch: James O'Brien's reaction after 16,000 Covid cases missed from daily figures

Watch: Hancock shot himself in foot by over-promising on Test and Trace, caller says

Asked what has gone so badly wrong, Mr Hunt said: "I think there's been a glitch, which has meant that whilst a group of people who tested positive for coronavirus were told, and therefore instructed to self-isolate, it didn't get fed into the system, so up to 15,000 of their close contacts weren't then contacted as they should have been."

He said the issue had now been "partially rectified" with over half of those close contacts being noted down and in the process of being contacted.

"That's obviously caused people to worry and that's what caused Matt Hancock to come to the Commons this afternoon."

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