Coronavirus infection rates soar in English cities after thousands of unreported cases added to official tally

Manchester sees rate more than double in just seven days, from 223.2 to 495.6 cases per 100,000 people

Coronavirus: Weekly rate of new Covid-19 cases in England

The weekly rate of coronavirus cases in some English cities has soared, new figures show, after nearly 16,000 positive test results that initially went unreported because of a technical error were added to the official tally.

Manchester now has the highest rate in England, with 2,740 cases recorded in the seven days to 1 October – the equivalent of 495.6 cases per 100,000 people.

That is more than double the 223.2 cases per 100,000 in the previous week.

Liverpool has the second highest rate, up from 287.1 to 456.4, with 2,273 new cases. Knowsley in Merseyside is in third place, up from 300.3 to 452.1, with 682 new cases.

Public Health England (PHE) data published on Sunday night also shows sharp rises in Newcastle upon Tyne, Nottingham, Leeds and Sheffield, analysis by the Press Association found.

The government has said the failure to report thousands of positive Covid-19 tests last week in England was the result of issues relating to the transfer of data between organisations.

PHE said the glitch resulted in 15,841 cases between 25 September and 2 October being left out of the reported daily coronavirus statistics.

The prime minister's official spokesperson said there had been a "technical issue" involving NHS Test and Trace and Public Health England. 

A mobile advertising vehicle displaying a coronavirus high risk area warning in Oldham, Greater Manchester

It is understood to have been linked to an Excel spreadsheet which reached its maximum file size, meaning new names were unable to be added in an automated process.

PHE said every person who was tested received their test result as normal, with all those testing positive told to self-isolate. 

However, it is believed that contact tracers were unable to alert those who had been in close proximity with infected people.

Labour’s shadow health secretary, Jonathan Ashworth, called the error "shambolic" and said "people across the country will be understandably alarmed”.

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