The number of recent cases of Coronavirus in the UK has been massively under-reported due to a basic IT error.
Public Health England (PHE) has said that around 16,000 cases were omitted from the daily case figures reported to government. According to some reports, the ommission is down to a basic error in the use of Excel, with the spreadsheet used to record lab results reaching its maximum size and then failing to update further.
In the UK the number of cases rose rapidly.— Max Roser (@MaxCRoser) October 5, 2020
But the public - and authorities - are only learning this now because these cases were only published now as a backlog.
The reason was apparently that the database is managed in Excel and the number of columns had reached the maximum. pic.twitter.com/X4a8keSEHK
PHE added that the people infected with the virus have been informed, but the omission means that efforts to trace the people they may have come into contact with have been delayed.
Apparently the error has now been corrected by splitting the Excel file into batches, however it is concerning that such an important function is being managed on such a basic level.
Appearing on on Sky News on Sunday, cabinet minister Brandon Lewis said claimed that the glitch was evidence of departmental "focus".
"Actually this is a testament to how focused the Department of Health, Public Health England, the Test and Trace are around the system," said Lewis. "We are being transparent about this, we're publishing the figures daily.
"As soon as they've spotted there was an issue, they've dug into that, they've got to the bottom of those numbers, they have been transparent and published the correct numbers and of course the teams will be looking through that to ensure it doesn't happen again.
"All the way through this we have been looking at how we can share information with the public as quickly as we can, as transparently as we can because that's part of explaining to people just how dangerous and how quick this virus is in the way it spreads," he added.
Meanwhile Labour leader Sir Kier Starmer told The Observer that the government is failing in its mission to control the pandemic.
"I think they've lost control of the virus. There isn't a strategy. There's a vacuum there, and that's because there's division in the Cabinet as to which strategy they should be following."
The Coronavirus pandemic is expected to continue to spread through the colder months, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson stating that he expects it to be "bumpy through to Christmas" and beyond.
Computing has responded by transforming its leading face-to-face events into digital experiences, with its three-day IT Leaders Festival happening from 20-22nd October.
Jonathan Ritchie, CIO of Mastercall Healthcare, explains how Bluetooth-connected devices can be used to remotely triage patients, potentially saving the NHS time and money, and saving lives
The Microsoft co-founder reinforces the need for innovation to navigate a path out of the crisis, and berates world governments stating that only the US has put sufficient funding towards a vaccine
Initially, the company directed staff to work from home until April, before extending it to July and then the end of 2020. Now it's summer next year
NHS workers said they were unable to log into the new website
Emma Wright, Partner at technology and digital specialist law firm Kemp Little, discusses the various thorny issues around the NHSX contact tracing app, including its effectiveness, the privacy issues surrounding the technology, and possible discriminatory...