Covid Sheffield: Lab returns just four positive coronavirus results out of 2,400 tests from city
A Covid testing lab returned just four positive results out of more than 2,400 tests sent to it from Sheffield, it has been revealed.
The Wolverhampton lab run by firm Immensa was suspended by the Government last week after it was accused of wrongly returning thousands of negative tests.
Now, a freedom of information request by The Guardian has revealed the number of results sent back to people from Sheffield.
Out of 2,400 tests sent to the lab from the city, only four of them of them returned a positive result between September 1 and mid-October.
This equates to just 0.2 per cent of results being positive – which sharply contrasts against the national rate of five to eight per cent at the time.
It raises questions why the highly anomalous results that pointed to failings at lab were not detected sooner.
The danger is that people who could have been positive for the virus were given the all clear and would have gone on to spread the disease, raising infection rates and potentially adding to deaths.
Opposition party MPs are now calling on the Government to investigate where else in the country could have been let down and to immediately go to ‘Plan B’ by brining back mask wearing and other measures.
Data released under freedom of information laws by Sheffield Council showed there were four positive results, 2,391 negative and 13 void results processed by the lab from September 1 until it was suspended in mid-October.
Dr Eleanor Rutter, consultant in public health for Sheffield Council said: “This is a national issue that has been well publicised but has only affected a very small proportion of Sheffield’s tests.
“The number of people identified as potentially having been given a false negative result in Sheffield is incredibly small. There is nothing to suggest this has had a significant impact on infection rates in the city.
“Tests from the city are sent to many different labs across the country, and this particular lab only received a small percentage of them.”
It comes as Sheffield’s public health director Greg Fell advised how Plan B can be avoided but “we all need to do it”, against a backdrop of rising infection rates.
The Covid infection rate in Sheffield on October 26 stood at 422.4 new cases per 100,000 people for the last seven days up to October 20.
Mr Fell: It’s definitely not over. Ask anyone who works in NHS and social care settings. They will tell you it’s not all over. Case rates are really high, serious illnesses are way higher than we would want it to be, and that is going to create a very difficult autumn and winter for lots and lots of people.”