Coronavirus: Data needed quicker to target local outbreaks, say doctors

The government must provide vital data more quickly to local authorities to help them deal with Covid-19 spikes in their areas, doctors say.

The comments from the British Medical Association follow criticism about the length of time it took to get testing data to officials in Leicester.

The city is the first to experience a local lockdown, after a rise in coronavirus cases.

The government insisted it had been working closely with local partners.

However, the BMA, the union representing doctors in the UK, said ministers needed to be more open and transparent with Covid-19 data and about how regional spikes in infections will be managed in the future.

The BMA says its members have expressed concerns about the prospect of a second wave of the virus, “heightened by local flare-ups”.

BMA council chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul said providing local leaders with up-to-date information was “vital” in containing outbreaks, particularly as a contact-tracing app is not yet in place.

“The prime minister has talked about a ‘whack a mole’ strategy to tackle local outbreaks, but this is no use if the people leading the response on the ground – be they public health teams or local leaders – are not given the most accurate up-to-date data possible,” he said.

Leicester mayor Sir Peter Soulsby criticised the speed of the response from the government and Public Health England, saying it took 11 days for the decision to extend the lockdown to be made, and also called for more information on what was happening “at street level”.