Nearly 600 coronavirus cases recorded in region by mistake
Covid cases in Suffolk and north Essex have been revised down after a data error saw one in eight positive tests placed in the wrong areas.
Scores of university students with positive coronavirus tests have had their results recorded at their home addresses instead of the university cities or towns where they were actually living.
It has meant that for six weeks this autumn, numbers reported in student cities were too low - while in some rural areas, reported cases were too high.
Across Suffolk and north Essex there were almost 600 fewer positive tests between September 1 and November than originally recorded.
There were 296 fewer cases in Suffolk, and 262 in north Essex (including the Colchester, Tendring, Braintree, Uttlesford and Maldon areas).
But the latest numbers show cases are rising – with positive tests up 28% in Suffolk.
In Norfolk, where case numbers are up 45%, there were 265 fewer cases after the error.
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The correction in the data means university cities like Newcastle had hundreds more cases.
Regionally, the North West saw an increase of 1,935 positive tests following the correction, while cases in East Anglia went down by 2,208.
Correcting the error, Public Health England said it would now use addresses given at the point of testing, rather than the details registered on a patient’s NHS Summary Care Record, which for students would usually be their parents’ address.
“This better reflects the distribution of cases and testing,” a spokesman said.
“However, it may give rise to differences in previously reported numbers of cases and rates in some areas.”