“Tens of thousands of Covid-19 tests have been double-counted in the Government’s official tally, public health officials have admitted.
Diagnostic tests which involve taking saliva and nasal samples from the same patient are being counted as two tests, not one.
The Department of Health and Social Care and Public Health England each confirmed the double-counting.
This inflates the daily reported diagnostic test numbers by over 20 per cent, with that proportion being much higher earlier on in the crisis before home test kits were added to the daily totals.
Almost 350,000 more tests have been reported in Government data than people tested since the start of the pandemic.
The discrepancy is in large part explained by the practice of counting salvia and nasal samples for the same individual twice.
Public Health England oversee the testing of patients who are seriously ill in hospital, as well as the most critical key workers.
The test involves a swab from the mouth and nose as well as a sample of saliva. Although both of these are taken from the same patient, they are counted twice by the Government in its daily data.
It is not the first time the Government has been caught massaging the testing data. It was accused last month of including thousands of home tests which had been posted but not completed in a bid to reach its target of 100,000 tests.
Jon Ashworth MP, Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary, said: ‘Ministers have already received an embarrassing slap on the wrists for their dodgy spin on testing figures. It seems they haven’t learnt their lesson. We need absolute transparency in the presentation of these figures’.”