Today’s revelation revealed that a scandal-hit Covid testing facility found 40 times fewer Covid cases than expected in Sheffield.

The facility is based in Woverhampton and reported that only 0.2% of the Covid samples it analysed in Sheffield in September and October were positive.

Despite the city’s higher test positivity rate of around 8 percent, this is still a significant achievement.

Only four of the 2,400 Sheffield samples that were tested at Immensa Health Center came back positive. Experts stated that they expected more than 200 positive results. 

Health chiefs disclosed technical issues at the clinic earlier in the month. Workers were filmed playing soccer and wrestling on their shifts. Over six weeks, thousands of tests were incorrectly processed.

The UK Health Security Agency, UKHSA, stated that the false negatives were mostly sent by the agency to people who had taken a PCR test at the South West – a region where Covid cases are nearly twice the national average – but refused to give specific breakdowns.

Experts believe that a complete list of testing sites affected should be published in order to assess the extent of the error. This is amid concerns that it may have triggered the latest wave infections, which saw daily cases exceed 50,000 last week.

Leaders in Stroud, Gloucestershire, one the worst affected areas by the testing problems, asked why it took so long for health chiefs to notice and requested that face masks be brought in to reduce the number of cases.

The graph shows the proportion of people in Sheffield who took a PCR test (grey bars) and the proportion who tested positive (blue line). At the beginning of September, around 11 per cent of people were testing positive, but the figure fell to 7.4 per cent during the period when the Wolverhampton lab was experiencing 'technical issues'

The graph shows both the percentage of Sheffield residents who took a PCR (grey bars) as well as the percentage who tested positive (blue lines). Around 11% of people tested positive at the beginning of September. However, that number dropped to 7.4% during the time when the Wolverhampton laboratory was experiencing technical issues.

Immensa Health Clinic, in Wolverhampton, has been suspended following an investigation revealing it may have incorrectly processed PCR tests. The lab (pictured) has been paid £170million by the taxpayer for its services

Following an investigation into whether it had incorrectly processed PCR test results, Immensa Health Clinic, Wolverhampton has been suspended. The lab (pictured) has been paid £170million by the taxpayer for its services

SHEFFIELD: Data shows that Sheffield sent 2,391 Covid samples to the Immensa lab between September 1 and when it was suspended earlier this month. But a local health chief said the problems had a limited impact locally, because the tests represent only a small proportion of the city's total. Some 410 per 100,000 people in Sheffield tested positive last week, lower than the national average of 482

SHEFFIELD: Between September 1st and the time it was suspended earlier in the month, data shows that Sheffield sent 2,391 Covid specimens to Immensa. However, a local health chief stated that the problems had not had an impact on the city as the tests only represent a small percentage of the total population. Last week, 410 people in Sheffield were positive for HIV. This is lower than the national average 482

Employees at Immensa Health Clinic in Wolverhampton were filmed fighting with each other (pictured) in January. This was at the height of the first wave and when the country was in strict lockdown

In January, Immensa Health Clinic employees in Wolverhampton were captured fighting (pictured). This was at the height and in the midst of the first wave.

After hearing that people were being sent PCR results, the UKHSA was alerted to problems at the lab. This was after hearing that people were receiving PCR test results indicating they were Covid-negative following a lateral flow test which indicated they were positive. 

It found an issue with the Immensa lab — which had been given nearly £170million by the Government to analyse PCR swabs last spring — and suspended its Covid testing operations, sending swabs to other labs for examination instead. 

According to symptom-tracking studies, UK’s daily Covid cases are worryingly close’ to 100,000

Britain is “worryingly close” to recording 100,000 new Covid infections daily, according to the country’s largest symptom tracking study. This warning comes despite Government data showing that the outbreak is under control.

King’s College London researchers estimated there were 92,953 people falling ill with the virus on average across the UK last week, up 14 per cent on the previous seven days.

For the first time, cases are increasing across all age groups, with under-18s still making the majority of cases after back-to school wave. Nearly 44,000 people are infected each day. 

Researchers found that there was an increase in the rate at which 55- to 75-year olds were getting booster shots, which is a sign of vulnerability.

Professor Tim Spector, an epidemiologist, is leading the study. He warned that the Government’s figures are a ‘big underestimate’, and may have missed 40% of cases. 

Sir Patrick Vallance today called upon Boris Johnson, the UK’s Minister of Health, to reimpose Covid restrictions when there is a reemergence of infections in the UK.

Ministers insist they will only move on to Plan B if the NHS is under ‘unsustainable pressure’, with one senior source saying that there was a less than 20%’ chance they will need curbs back.

King’s College’s most recent survey figures are based upon estimates from approximately 43,000 PCR and side flow tests performed between October 9 and Oct 23. Experts say it is susceptible to bias because it relies on people reporting their results.

The Department of Health’s daily reports only include cases confirmed by a PCR test — which are more reliable than lateral flow devices. They showed new infections fell for the fourth day in a row yesterday, dropping 10.6 per cent to 43,941.

Professor Spector’s findings cover the period when cases decreased slightly in children, but not those of the four most recent days that saw an increase in infections across the country.  

According to the agency, 43,000 people, mostly in the South West, were wrongly told they were virus-free after they were infected. They have contacted all affected. It is still investigating the laboratory’s failures. 

Data from Sheffield, Yorkshire, shows that only four out of 2,391 tests were positive. The lab reported 13 voids.

This is a 0.2% increase in positivity rate, compared to the national average of five to eight percent at the time.

Around 20,000 people in Sheffield perform PCR tests each day. 

11 percent of those who took the test at the beginning of September were Covid-positive. 

The rate dropped to 7.4 percent during the period that the lab received thousands of tests and was having technical issues. 

Dr Kit Yates is a mathematical biologist at Bath University. He told the Guardian that every testing site affected the Immensa problems should have a published list.

He stated that while it was all well and good to notify those who were tested, the nature of this communicable illness means that this scandal now reaches far beyond those individuals.

He said that the public should be informed about any potential effects to their area and reassured about the testing process.

Dr Yates said: “Beyond that it must be made clear that there will be consequences for labs that don’t do the job properly and whose errors results in higher-levels infection, pressure on hospitals, and ultimately death.” 

MailOnline was also told by Professor Paul Hunter, an epidemiologist from the University of East Anglia that he believed that the 43,000 faulty test results had impacted Covid case numbers.

He estimated that 8,000 people will have contracted the disease if they get the wrong result. These estimates are based on rough estimates regarding the number people who isolate from the virus when they’re sick, regardless of PCR results. 

Professor Hunter stated, however, that it could be more. There are still many key unknowns. 

Professor Hunter stated, “Clearly any substantial number or preventable false positives means that people are no longer self-isolating.” 

Dr Eleanor Rutter, consultant for public health at Sheffield City Council, said that the Immensa laboratory problems had ‘only affected very small percentages of Sheffield’s test results’.

She stated that ‘the number of people potentially being given a false negative result in Sheffield was incredibly small. This has not had an impact on the city’s infection rates.

“Tests from the area are sent to many other labs across the country, and this lab received only a small portion of them.”

The city’s infection rate is not high, with 410 people testing positive for HIV last week, as compared to the 482 national average, according to Department of Health data.

Despite cases falling in South West, which is in line to the pattern seen across the UK, infections are still nearly twice the national average. Last week, 728 people tested positive.  

Dr Will Welfare is the Incident Director for Covid of the UKHSA. He stated that: “We suspended testing at Immensa Wolverhampton Laboratory following an ongoing inquiry into positive LFD results, which were then tested negative on PCR. All affected were contacted as quickly as possible.

SOUTH WEST: Official figures show figures are nearly double the national average in the South West, where 728 per 100,000 tested positive last week. The region has been the worst hit by the Covid testing problems at the Immensa lab in Wolverhampton

SOUTHWEST: Official statistics show figures nearly double the South West national average. Last week, 728 of 100,000 South West residents tested positive. The Immensa lab at Wolverhampton’s Covid testing problems has had the most severe impact on the region. 

UK: Infections fell four a fourth day in a row yesterday. Latest estimates from the Department of Health show 482 per 100,000 people tested positive last week

UK: Yesterday was the fourth consecutive day of infection declines. According to the Department of Health, 482 out of 100,000 people were tested positive last week.

“A thorough investigation is ongoing. We will provide an update when it is ready.

“There is no evidence that PCR or LFD test kits are defective and the public should continue to use them and other laboratory services they provide.”

It comes as Labour, Lib Dem and Green leaders in Stroud, one of the areas worst affected by the testing problems, issued a joint statement calling for an urgent investigation into the lab and for mandatory face masks to be brought in to bring down infections.

Last week, 1,145 people tested positive in Stroud for HIV. This is more than twice the national average.

They stated that there were cases in the district that had risen like never before. In fact, weeks before Government announced that there was a failure in lab testing, we heard local stories that something was amiss with the tests. 

“Why did this failure take so long to be discovered and how many people have it affected?”  We cannot afford for such mistakes to occur during a pandemic. 

“We ask the Government to take urgent measures to reduce cases quickly, such as mask wear and extra ventilation in enclosed spaces. We also need extra support for those who are isolated. 

“People who have done all of the right things are now sick with Covid, angry that the Government has denied any connection between the test failures to the increasing number of local cases and the test failures. 

“We are asking our fellow Gloucestershire council leaders, and our MPs, to join us in demanding immediate action.”