Health leaders to finally get local data on number of new Covid-19 cases

Postwick park and ride coronavirus test centre. Picture: Mike Page

Postwick park and ride coronavirus test centre. Picture: Mike Page - Credit: Mike Page

Local health leaders will start getting better figures on how many people in Norfolk are testing positive for coronavirus after striking a deal.

Norfolk’s director of public health, Louise Smith, said that the county council was in the final stages of agreeing a contract with Public Health England (PHE) to get data on the results of all local coronavirus testing.

Up until now PHE has only published local figures on the number of health and care staff testing positive.

Health leaders have said that is not good enough, and they need results from public testing centres, like Postwick Park and Ride.

MORE: Visitors from locked-down Leicester warned to stay away from Norfolk coast

Dr Louise Smith. Picture: Norfolk County Council

Dr Louise Smith. Picture: Norfolk County Council - Credit: Archant

An analysis of PHE data by this newspaper suggests there could be around 550 more coronavirus cases in Norfolk than the 2,247 reported so far when all testing is included.

Dr Smith told this newspaper on June 18 that she did not have good enough local data.

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Asked about it again earlier this week, she said they were now getting more data but some issues still needed resolving.

She said in a statement: “We are pleased to be in the final stages of agreeing and implementing a contract with PHE to receive data, which includes some of the information from the national testing scheme.

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“Data is important but alone will not stop the spread of the virus.”

She said rates of infections were low in Norfolk, but “we are not out of the woods yet”.

PHE data shows Norfolk ranked 94 out of 151 local authorities for the rate of new coronavirus cases per 100,000 people in the week up to June 21.

Suffolk was 131st, while Leicester, where the lockdown has been extended, was first.

In Norfolk the latest figures show that same week there were 4.3 positive test results per 100,000 people.

Suffolk had 1.5, while the figure for Leicester was 140.

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Dr Chaand Nagpaul, chairman of the BMA Council, said better local data was “crucial to allow swift action and to protect lives”.

The issue of publishing local data was also raised by Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer at Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday.

In response Boris Johnson said action had been taken swiftly in Leicester and defended the sharing of testing figures with local leaders.

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