Simple questions about Isle of Wight Covid testing and Contact Tracing App still not be answered despite assurances at the highest level

After we ran our “Why are questions about Isle of Wight Covid testing and Contact Tracing App not being answered?” piece last month, the Government heavyweights got involved, assuring News OnTheWight the numbers would be released. They haven’t. Here’s the detail of the story so far

Woman with finger over mouth signalling a shh

Another week has passed and News OnTheWight are still waiting for answers to simple public interest questions about the Contact Tracing App and Coronavirus testing on the Isle of Wight.

Seventeen days after first posing questions via the Isle of Wight council, Public Health, NHS Data and now the Department for Health and Social Care have all failed to answer.

Bumped over to DHSC
On Thursday last week (28th May) News OnTheWight published details of questions posed via the Isle of Wight council to Simon Bryant, Director of Public Health IW and Geraint Lewis, head of Data at NHS Digital. At that point we’d already been waiting eight days for answers, but were then told we were being bumped over to the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC).

A quick reminder of the questions:
  1. How many C19 tests have taken place on the Island since testing began?
  2. What’s the split between hospital, care homes, testing centre, App reports?
  3. How many tests have been ordered since the introduction of the App?
  4. How many of the new confirmed cases since 5th May are from tests carried out via the App?
  5. How many contact tracers are there on the Isle of Wight?
  6. If none, are there plans to have local contact tracers, or will it be centralised?
  7. What’s the latest number of downloads of the App?
  8. How many App users have been notified that they’ve been near someone who has symptoms since the App launched?

The following day, Friday (29th May), News OnTheWight received an email from the Chief Communications Officer at the DHSC – quite an upgrade and most unexpected – asking how she could help. We sent her the questions.

DHSC: “Doing our best”
Then late in the afternoon we had a call from someone else in comms there. They explained that the data wasn’t available quite yet as a major evaluation of all the data was underway and that they were ‘doing their best’ to get the figures verified.

The spokesperson said the figures would be published this week. Now on Saturday (6th June), 17 days after first asking the questions, News OnTheWight has still not received responses to our straightforward public interest questions.

Data dump can’t be shared
Our thanks to the reader who sent over a link to an article on HSJ last week – that includes an interview with Isle of Wight council CEO, John Metcalfe – which stated:

“The council received a “data dump” three times daily with information about users reporting symptoms through the app. They would then deliver tests to people’s homes and return the following day to pick up samples which were taken to the laboratory.”

The data dump would provide the answer to at least one of News OnTheWight’s questions, so we asked why the IWC had failed to answer it.

A spokesperson for Isle of Wight council explained,

“The data dump referred to in the article is medical information provided to the council for the purpose of supporting the test delivery/pickup service.

“It is not our data and we are not able to share that with the media, even if it does not provide personal information.”

Obstruction to the facts?
At a heightened time of importance for the public to have access to accurate reporting of the facts, these delays could be seen by some as obstruction to the facts.

These are not the only questions News OnTheWight has had trouble getting answered by the IWC. More to follow.

Image: kristina flour under CC BY 2.0

Saturday, 6th June, 2020 11:19am



Filed under: Health, Island-wide, Isle of Wight News, Top story

Any views or opinions presented in the comments below must comply with the Commenting 'House Rules' and are solely those of the author and do not represent those of OnTheWight.

Leave your Reply

11 Comments on "Simple questions about Isle of Wight Covid testing and Contact Tracing App still not be answered despite assurances at the highest level"

newest oldest most voted
So the only conclusion that can be drawn is a massive failure of epic proportions. If the App were successful then the government and the IWC would be singing its praises. What a pity that this App was trumpeted by the Health Minister on TV as the answer to all our problems when the reality was that this was merely a very early version that was nowhere… Read more »

‘Shoddy mishandling’ pretty much sums up ever aspect of the governments handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

Rhos yr Alarch

Thanks for continuing to try, and not being fobbed off by the brick wall you are encountering….!


and STILL no promised update To the App to include loss of taste/smell.
The silence is deafening. I suspect there may be a major flaw with the app, and that if it involves personal data then that may be why the silence. I’m going to delete the App now and wait for further info.

We know that the national rollout of the App – originally planned for early June – has been twice postponed, first to late June, and now “by October”. We know that islanders have been told we are to trial a significantly revised version, which was promised for early June but has yet to appear. It seems pretty obvious that the App we have been testing doesn’t actually… Read more »

I suspect the problem is Seely was’ent invited to the right BBQ.


Surely it’s obvious. Large parts of the world quarantine visitors but this government says no! the rest of the world is wrong. only to be evangelical when it’s too late. Face masks the same. So in the near future they will be flag wavers for the google Apple app. What the others do we follow, only far far too late

Jenny Smart

Keep on asking.

Could you please publish the list of questions OTW asked.

Admittedly I haven’t downloaded this app as my phone is too old. I always understood the app was being tested on the island to see how it worked in reality – the app part, and the health part. If the app is deemed unfit, will the government be recovering a refund from the developers? Similarly, the ineffectual PPE that was bought and paid for, although delivered late… Read more »