Portsmouth sees new coronavirus cases surge following government data error

THE coronavirus infection rate in Portsmouth has increased fourfold in a month and new cases are up 78 per cent compared to two weeks ago – as the government adds cases it failed to record in daily updates.

The city had 73 new cases of Covid-19 in the seven days leading to last Friday, with the government adding cases missed from daily updates because an Excel spreadsheet ran out of space.

Over the weekend the government revealed that a total of 15,841 new cases discovered nationwide between Friday, September 25, and Friday, October 2 had been left out of its online records due to the blunder.

The latest figures for Portsmouth represents a 78 per cent increase from the 41 new cases previously reported for the seven days to Tuesday, September 22.

People are wearing masks to protect themselves against coronavirus in Commercial Road, Portsmouth on March 20, 2020. Picture: Habibur Rahman

The increase puts the city’s coronavirus infection rate at 34 cases per 100,000 residents, with the threshold for a local lockdown being 50 cases per 100,000 residents.

But Portsmouth continues to be ‘incredibly safe’ in comparison to worse hit areas like Liverpool and Manchester, according to Portsmouth City Council leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson, who fears the rising rate in the city points towards a national lockdown.

Cllr Vernon-Jackson said: ‘I don’t think we’re looking at a local lockdown.

‘Everywhere rates are going up, and we’re at one tenth the infection rate of Manchester and Liverpool, so we’re incredibly safe in comparison.

‘I don’t think there will be a local lockdown imposed on us – it will be a national lockdown.

‘If there’s a local lockdown in Portsmouth, then there will be a local lockdown everywhere.’

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The council leader also warned that the infection rate may continue to rise as a rapid expansion of testing is planned by the University of Portsmouth.

He said: ‘The university is aiming to test every single one of its students – all 20,000 of them – this term.

‘So there are more tests to come – and people have to remain sensible and careful.’

And Cllr Vernon-Jackson had a simple message for health secretary Matt Hancock in the wake of the data-entry fiasco: ‘Get a grip.’

He added: ‘He was minister for Portsmouth – he wasn’t really very good at that either.’

‘I’ve given up expecting the government to be competent.

‘Nothing surprises me anymore.’

Every one the cases previously missed from the government database received their COVID-19 test result as normal and all those who tested positive were advised to self-isolate.

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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