Here's why the published coronavirus test figures don't show the full picture with North East cases over 15,000

According to Public Health England, the North East recorded 318 positive coronavirus cases during the month of June, but the real figure is likely to be at least double that.

Wednesday, 1st July 2020, 1:27 pm
Updated Wednesday, 1st July 2020, 1:28 pm
National Health Service (NHS) workers are tested for Coronavirus (Covid-19) at a drive-through testing site (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

This is because the daily localised case figures released by PHE only apply to pillar one swab tests conducted in its labs and NHS Hospitals.

While the Government’s UK-wide coronavirus test figures published daily includes tests from all pillars, pillar two tests, which includes home and drive-through testing for the wider population, are not included as part of the local case breakdown.

According to figures released by Public Health England on Tuesday, June 30, there are 10,558 confirmed coronavirus cases in the North East.

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But this only applies to pillar one tests, as in reality, the figure is around 15,000 when you factor in pillar two testing figures shown in the PHE’s Weekly Coronavirus Surveillance Report.

As of Wednesday, June 24, a total of 4,414 people had tested positive under the pillar two measure in the North East – no further breakdown is currently available.

In Sunderland, 1,388 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed under the pillar one testing measure only.

Northumberland has 1,067 confirmed cases while South Tyneside and Hartlepool have 751 and 354 respectively.

According to a report in the Financial Times, pillar two test figures for local authorities are only available to authorised health officials.

This is caused some controversy as local councils, and the general public, are left in the dark without the full picture and could believe they are controlling the virus better than they actually are.

Leicester made headlines this week by becoming the first place in the UK to be placed under a local lockdown following a spike in cases.

The city recorded just 80 positive cases between June 13 and June 26 according to PHE. But Health Secretary Matt Hancock revealed that there were in fact 944 positive cases when pillar two measures were taken into account.

This significant disparity has angered local authority figures with Leicester Mayor Sir Peter Soulsby telling the BBC: “For weeks we have been trying to get information about the level of testing in the city and the results of that testing in the city.”

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