Bedford MP accuses Government of 'burying' local coronavirus data

Bedford and Kempston MP Mohammad Yasin said the implications of not publishing information on local cases and testing were "deadly serious". Credit: PA

Bedford and Kempston MP Mohammad Yasin has accused the Government of "at best burying, at worst suppressing" crucial data local areas need to tackle coronavirus.

The Labour MP, whose constituency has a high infection rate, said that the implications of not publishing information on local cases and testing were "deadly serious".

According to the latest figures from Public Health England (PHE), Bedford has 42 cases of Covid per 100,000 population. That is the fifth highest in the country.

Bedford currently has 42 cases of Covid per 100,000 population, according to PHE figures. Credit: PA

Local politicians have complained they have not been given access to pillar two test results - swabs of the wider population - and have had to rely on pillar one data -based on cases confirmed in NHS and PHE labs.

Labour MP Mr Yasin said on Wednesday he had asked Prime Minister Boris Johnson how he knew Bedford was safe to enter the next phase of lockdown easing when the Government was not publishing this "vital data" needed to make decisions to keep the public safe.

Mr Yasin said: "His trademark blustering answer dismissed my question but now we know for certain what we have for weeks suspected, that the Government is at best burying, at worst suppressing, a whole tranche of crucial health information in the midst of a pandemic.

The implications of this are deadly serious and I will be raising this at the highest levels.

Mohammad Yasin, Bedford and Kempston MP

PHE and the Government have faced accusations of long delays in sharing figures with regional public health experts.

While the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) publishes the complete testing data on a national level, it only publishes the pillar one figures for individual local authorities.

In Leicester, the area facing local lockdown with the highest infection rate, the number of cases has been much higher when pillar two data is included.

According to the most recent data, published on Tuesday, there have been 1,059 cases in Leicester since the outbreak began, but the city council said on Monday that the latest figures it has received show there have been 3,216 Covid-19 cases confirmed when you include pillar two figures.

At Prime Minister's Questions, Mr Johnson insisted that "both pillar one and pillar two data have been shared not just with Leicester but with all authorities across the country".

He said "very effective whack-a-mole strategies have been put in place."The Government has previously said that last week it started securely sharing postcode-level testing data with all local authorities including Leicester.