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Coronavirus: Spike in UK cases down to ‘technical issue’, says government

A spike in the UK’s coronavirus caseload that saw more than 12,000 positive results added on Saturday was down to a “technical issue”, the government has said.

A further 12,872 cases of coronavirus were confirmed yesterday – almost double the 6,968 cases announced on Friday morning.

The government said in a note attached to the figures that “due to a technical issue, which has now been resolved, there has been a delay in publishing a number of Covid-19 cases”.

The glitch means the total reported coronavirus cases over the coming days will include some additional cases from the period between 24 September and 1 October.

This would lead to an increase in the overall number of cases reported, the government said.

Responding to the glitch on Sky News’ Sophy Ridge programme on Sunday, cabinet minister Brandon Lewis said “actually this is a testament to how focused the Department of Health, Public Health England, the Test and Trace are around the system”.

He said: “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.”

However, the glitch is likely to be seized upon by critics of the government’s handling of the pandemic, with Sir Keir Starmer, the Labour leader, accusing Boris Johnson‘s administration of having “lost control of the virus”.

Speaking to The Observer, Sir Keir said: “I think they’ve lost control of the virus.

“There isn’t a strategy. There’s a vacuum there,” he added.

“And that’s because there’s division in the Cabinet as to which strategy they should be following.”

The latest testing issue comes after Mr Johnson had to apologise for wrongly describing new social restrictions placed on the North East.

In a separate regional interview on Friday, the former London mayor also appeared not to know the guidance in place in Merseyside, which became the latest area to enter into a local lockdown on Saturday.

Saturday’s figure brings the total number of cases in the UK to 480,017.

The government also said a further 49 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Saturday, bringing the UK total to 42,317.

Additional reporting by agencies.

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