A technical glitch in Britain caused thousands of cases of the novel coronavirus to be reported up to 10 days after they were first identified, British health officials said.
Nearly 16,000 new infections were left out of the country’s daily case totals between Sept. 25 and Friday, the BBC reported, and thus prompted “artificially high” counts over the weekend and inaccurately low counts before that.
Nearly 13,000 new cases were reported on Saturday, with just under 23,000 on Sunday.
Besides affecting data reporting, the error also delivered a significant blow to British contact tracing efforts, which critics say are already too far delayed to properly track the spread of the outbreak.
While health authorities said the glitch had not affected the pandemic response at the local level, Labour Party politicians described it as “shambolic,” according to the BBC.
Everyone who tested positive and was affected by the error has been informed about their results, but those who have been in close contact with those individuals — in some cases, without knowing it — have not.
Michael Brodie, the interim head of the top British public health agency, said the issue was identified late Friday in the computer process that communicates positive results from labs to the country’s reporting dashboards. Some data files containing positive results had exceeded the maximum file size, he said, according to the BBC.
“We fully understand the concern this may cause,” Brodie added, “and further robust measures have been put in place as a result.”