Coronavirus: Data needed quicker to target local outbreaks, say doctors
The government needs to provide vital data more quickly to local authorities to help them deal with the Covid-19 peaks in their areas, doctors say.
British Medical Association comments follow criticism of the time taken to get test data to Leicester officials.
The city is the first to suffer a local blockade after an increase in coronavirus cases.
The government insisted that it worked closely with local partners.
However, the BMA, the union representing doctors in the UK, said ministers should be more open and transparent with Covid-19 data and how regional peaks in infections will be managed in the future.
The BMA says its members have expressed concern about the prospect of a second wave of the virus, “accentuated by local exacerbations”.
Chaand Nagpaul, president of the BMA council, said that providing local leaders with up-to-date information is “vital” to contain outbreaks, particularly because a contact tracking app is not yet in place.
He said the prime minister talked about a “strategy to hit a mole” to deal with local epidemics, but this would not be helpful if the people driving the response “are not given the most accurate and up-to-date data possible.”
The seven-day infection rate in Leicester was 135 cases per 100,000 people – three times that of the next highest city – but it took 11 days to make the decision to extend the blockade, city mayor Sir Peter said. Soulsby.
Across the rest of England, the blockade is expected to further mitigate on Saturday with the reopening of bars, restaurants and hairdressers, but the BMA said it wanted the government to establish “trigger points” metrics for when action will be taken to reintroduce the premises and national restrictions.
The BMA said that this metric should consider not only the regional reproductive number or the R rate – the number of people an infected person will pass the virus on average – but also the percentage of the population currently infected.
He also invited the government to:
- share “timely, complete and reliable information” with those who manage new cases locally
- provide the public with a “clear and coherent orientation” which must be followed by rigorous social removal and infection control measures
- ensure the supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) to areas affected by local peaks
A government spokesman said he worked closely with local partners, providing the resources and tools needed to act quickly to address any new local spikes in infections.
It remains one of the most disconcerting aspects of the current approach.
Local authorities were not regularly provided with information on residents who tested positive.
Although they are intrinsically involved in the system as a local arm of the contact search service, the advice only gets what the national system deems appropriate.
He was asked to chase so-called complex cases – where people test positive in nursing homes, prisons or schools – so that he could quickly get that information.
But they did not receive real-time information about individual residents who tested positive.
Local public health directors say it hindered their ability to seek the development of schemes and clusters. In theory, the national system should do it, but why not have a second pair of eyes? Especially someone who knows the local situation much better?
This is starting to change: data sharing agreements have just been signed with local authorities and Public Health England has now set up a system that should do this completely and quickly from now on.
But the fact that he has not already done so and the experience of those in the field in Leicester – where cases have been on the rise for several weeks – suggests that local outbreaks that are developing in the community may not yet have been identified so quickly. as they should.
Trade secretary Alok Sharma told BBC Breakfast “you can always improve on these things” when asked if Leicester’s response has been too slow, but said local authorities have access to digital dashboards with local data.
Labor MP Yvette Cooper tweeted that it was “incomprehensible” that the health authorities of Wakefield, West Yorkshire were trying to obtain local data on the results of the swab tests on the wider population, but had not been able to do so.
Under the local blockade, announced Monday evening, Leicester’s non-essential stores were forced to close and schools closed, with the exception of vulnerable pupils and “critical worker” children. People are also advised not to travel in or out of town.
The measures will last at least July 18 and will apply to the city center and some suburbs.
Sir Peter criticized the government and the PHE for being too slow to share test data with city officials – claiming that city officials had been trying to get “for weeks” figures.
- The new Leicester blocking rules at a glance
Since then, the Department of Health has announced a data sharing agreement with local authorities that will allow them to access the number of people who test positive in the community in their area.
But the prof. Azeem Majeed, of Imperial College London, said the country had been slow in the areas of his Covid-19 response and stated that the data sharing agreement “should have been in effect some time ago”.
Further “inevitable” local epidemics
Announcing the blockade on Monday, health secretary Matt Hancock said Leicester has “10% of all positive cases in the country over the past week.”
Bradford, Barnsley and Rochdale have seen 45 or more cases per 100,000 people in the past week.
Since May, the government has said it would use local blockades to counter “exacerbations”.
Prof Neil Ferguson of Imperial College London, who used to advise the government before resigning on a block trip, told BBC Radio 4’s Today program that it was “inevitable” that there would be further local outbreaks and that high rates of the virus in Bradford and Doncaster were “clearly worrying”.
“Those are areas where they’re not as tall as Leicester, but they have some of the highest case numbers per 100,000 of the population, which is the relevant measure, so they’re clearly worrying,” he said.
The Department of Health said 43,730 people had died of coronaviruses in the UK at 5:00 PM on Monday, an increase of 155 the previous day.
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