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Revealed: Suffolk had 1,000 more coronavirus cases than reported at height of pandemic

PUBLISHED: 09:34 03 July 2020 | UPDATED: 11:06 03 July 2020

The government data for daily confirmed cases, as of Thursday (July 2), now contains pillar 2 data from drive-through testing centres Picture: Aaron Chown/PA Wire

The government data for daily confirmed cases, as of Thursday (July 2), now contains pillar 2 data from drive-through testing centres Picture: Aaron Chown/PA Wire

More than 1,000 coronavirus cases in Suffolk at the height of the pandemic were not reported in public government figures, it can be revealed.

Last night, the government’s daily dashboard recording the number of positive coronavirus cases in England was updated to include testing for all local authorities.

For the first time it included those tests carried out in the wider community, using home testing kits and drive-through centres, known as Pillar 2.

Up until now, the data has only included Pillar 1 tests, carried out in hospitals on staff and patients.

MORE: Reports of Suffolk coronavirus ‘spike’ sparked by just three cases – here is what is actually happening

By comparing the Pillar 1 and Pillar 2 tests, the data shows that 1,034 positive cases – mostly from the height of the pandemic between April and May – were not made public.

Since the middle of June, this data has been shared with local authorities and public health leaders, the government said.

The Covid-19 drive-through testing centre near the Copdock interchange in Ipswich  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNThe Covid-19 drive-through testing centre near the Copdock interchange in Ipswich Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Here’s a breakdown for Suffolk (up to July 2, 2020):

Pillar 1 tests (carried out within hospitals and by the NHS) - 1,565

Pillar 2 tests (by commercial providers like home testing kits and drive through centres) – 1,034

Total number of cases across Pillar 1 and Pillar 2 - 2,599

The figures come as Suffolk’s infection rate fell once again – with the county recording less than one positive test result per 100,000 people in the week up to June 28.

MORE: Lockdown could ‘return within weeks’ if social distancing fails on Super Saturday, hospital boss warns

Public Health England (PHE) and the Government have faced criticism this week over their handling of data on coronavirus cases.

There have been accusations of long delays in sharing figures with regional public health experts.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said all councils in England can now access testing data, down to an individual and postcode level.

PHE began providing positive test data – which had been shared with the public health agency for several months – to local councils last week, on June 24, officials said.

MORE: Coronavirus infection rate in Suffolk plummets to among lowest in England

Ahead of the new data being published, Suffolk County Council chiefs said that the county’s case rate remains significantly lower than most of England.

The Covid-19 drive-through testing centre near the Copdock interchange in Ipswich  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNThe Covid-19 drive-through testing centre near the Copdock interchange in Ipswich Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Stuart Keeble, director of public health in Suffolk, said: “The Pillar 2 data gives a clearer picture of the number of COVID-19 cases in Suffolk.

“It is important to recognise that the majority of these will not be new cases. “These are cases which have been identified since Pillar 2 testing began in March. As such, we expect these numbers to continue to vary over time as more information becomes available.

“Suffolk continues to have low numbers of cases compared to most other areas and the number of new cases is very low. In Suffolk, we have done well to slow the spread of the virus, but we must all stick with it and keep following the guidance to avoid further spread.”

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