Boris Johnson Accused Of Lying About Coronavirus Test Data After Leicester's 'Lost Week'

The PM was quizzed by Keir Starmer about the time it took to share positive testing data with the city's local leaders.

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Boris Johnson insists councils are getting local coronavirus testing data – but has been accused of lying amid after it emerged Leicester had to wait days for the numbers before being locked down.

Labour leader Keir Starmer said there was a “lost week” while the virus spread in the East Midlands city – after Matt Hancock warned of an outbreak during a press conference on June 18, but before Leicester City Council was able to access the data that actually showed it happening.

At first, only so-called “pillar 1” data was shared with local leaders – showing Covid-19 test results in hospitals and for NHS and care workers.

“Pillar 2” data showing the results of testing in the community at home and at drive-through centres, which is processed by commercial labs, was not made available until last Thursday.

But Johnson insisted local authorities had been sent both types of data.

At prime minister’s questions, Starmer said: “What that meant was that the local authority thought there were 80 positive tests in the last fortnight when the real figure was 944.

“The local authority was only given the real figure last Thursday so there was a lost week whilst the virus was spreading.

“There are now real fears of further local lockdowns across the country.

“Can the prime minister give a cast iron guarantee today that no other local authority will ever be put in that position again?”

Johnson replied: “I’m afraid you are mistaken because both pillar 1 and pillar 2 data have been shared with not just Leicester but with all authorities across the country.

“We did in Leicester exactly what we did in Kirklees, or in Bradford, or in Weston-super-Mare where very effective whack-a-mole strategies have been put in place.”

But the PM was accused of “lying” as several Labour MPs pointed out problems in their local areas.

Shadow health minister Justin Madders highlighted comments from health minister Nadine Dorries earlier this month, which showed Deloitte, the private company contracted to oversee commercial testing, did not have an obligation to report positive cases to Public Health England and local authorities.

Shadow minister Jess Phillips said: “Boris Johnson is just lying. It has been incredibly hard for local authorities to get data and information from the beginning of the crisis.

“It won’t be a shock that he’s a liar but still makes my blood boil that he just stands and lies while people are sick and losing their jobs.”

Shadow care minister and Leicester West MP Liz Kendall meanwhile highlighted comments from a leading local respiratory doctor, who said the NHS in the area has “no knowledge” of the spike in cases and only had information from “hearsay”.

Senior Labour MP Yvette Cooper meanwhile said health authorities in her constituency in Wakefield, West Yorkshire, had been trying to get hold of local pillar 2 testing data – the results from swab tests of the wider population – but had not been able to.

She tweeted: “Our local public health teams, council, NHS doctors and managers in Wakefield have had to fight for months to try to get this data.

“In a public health crisis, the most important thing is knowing where infection is.

“Appalling and incomprehensible that basic info hasn’t been provided.”


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