Britain reported a surge in daily COVID-19 cases to a record 22,961 on Sunday after authorities admitted a technical issue had meant that over 15,000 test results had not been transferred into computer systems on time, including for contact tracers. The technical problem, which was identified on Friday and has now been resolved, led to 15,841 cases not being uploaded into reporting dashboards used by the NHS contact-tracing system.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock is due to give a statement in the Commons later today to explain the blunder amid reports the missing results exceeded the maximum file size.
Political commentator Andrew Neil described the new as a “government shambles”.
News of the glitch was likely to cast further doubt over the robustness of the national test-and-trace system, which Prime Minister Boris Johnson said would be “world-beating” but which has experienced a series of delays and setbacks.
In terms of tracing the contacts of the infected people, Public Health England (PHE) said the information had been transferred to the relevant systems over the weekend and contact tracers were now working urgently to catch up.
The authority said all the people concerned had been given their results in a timely fashion, and that those with positive results had been told to self-isolate.
PHE said: “NHS Test and Trace have made sure that there are more than enough contact tracers working, and are working with local Health Protection Teams to ensure they also have sufficient resources to be urgently able to contact all cases.
“We are also increasing the number of call attempts from 10 to 15 over 96 hours.”.
PHE’s interim chief executive, Michael Brodie, added: ”We fully understand the concern this may cause and further robust measures have been put in place as a result.”
Work and Pensions Secretary Thérèse Coffey
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A “technical glitch” in England’s test and trace system has resulted in major delays in handing over the details of almost 16,000 positive cases to contact tracers.
Public Health England said 15,841 positive tests carried out between 25 September and 2 October had been added to the UK’s daily case totals over the weekend after a computer glitch meant they were not recorded on time.
The blunder saw the UK’s positive case figures soar after the backlog was finally added to the official tally, with 12,872 cases recorded on Saturday and a further 22,961 on Sunday.
PHE insisted all those who had been tested during the period had recieved their results as normal, with those testing positive for the virus being asked to self-isolate.
But they conceded the delay meant the close contacts of those confirmed to have the virus were not contacted by the NHS test and trace system.
Michael Brodie, the interim head of Public Health England said the “technical issue” had been spotted on Friday evening, meaning contact tracers were not handed the details until 1am on Saturday morning.
It is believed the glitch was caused by data files recording positive test results exceeding the maximum file size allowed by the system.
“After rapid investigation, we have identified that 15,841 cases between 25 September and 2 October were not included in the reported daily Covid-19 cases. The majority of these cases occurred in the most recent days,” Mr Brodie said.
“Every one of these cases received their Covid-19 test result as normal and all those who tested positive were advised to self-isolate.
“NHS test and trace and PHE have worked to quickly
Others just craved speed: “TREASON = FIRING SQAUD [sic] OR HANGING! DO IT NOW PLEASE THAT’S THE LAW! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !”
These posts — from January 2018, just months after QAnon flamed to life from the embers of Pizzagate, with its false claims of a child-sex ring run by Democrats out of a Washington pizzeria — were among the many early warnings that the new conspiracy theory was fueling hatred and calls for violence on Facebook, Twitter and other social media.
But it would be years before Facebook and Twitter would make major moves to curb QAnon’s presence on their platforms, despite serious cases of online harassment and offline violence that followed, and moves by other social media companies to limit the spread of QAnon’s lurid and false allegations of pedophilia and other crimes.
One social media company, Reddit, closed forums devoted to the conspiracy in 2018 because of online harassment and calls for violence, and YouTube removed tens of thousands of QAnon videos and hundreds of related channels in June 2019 as part of a broader crackdown on content that violated its hate speech and other policies, said YouTube spokesman Alex Joseph.
Still, it would be another year before Facebook and Twitter would initiate broad crackdowns against QAnon, waiting until this past summer to close or limit the reach of more than 20,000 QAnon-connected accounts and pages after two years of QAnon-fueled threats of violence and numerous real-world crimes. By then, FBI officials, in an intelligence briefing, had warned that QAnon was becoming a potential domestic terrorism threat, and the U.S. Military Academy’s Combating Terrorism Center had warned that “QAnon represents a public security threat with the potential in the future to become a more impactful domestic terror threat.”