Why are Isle of Wight council and Public Health also avoiding answering a simple question on number of Covid-19 cases?

Four weeks ago(!) News OnTheWight asked if the 178 people in IW care homes who had contracted Covid-19 was on top of Public Health England numbers. Still no answer. The answer is important – It’ll have a big impact on understanding infection rates. Here’s the saga so far


Back at the beginning of June, Isle of Wight council papers for the Corporate Scrutiny Committee (para 53) revealed that,

“Between the beginning of March 2020 and 14 May 2020, 178 people living in the Island’s care homes have contracted Covid-19.”

On the same day, Public Health England’s (PHE) latest figures of confirmed cases on the Island had reached 200.

Are care home cases included PHE figures?
News OnTheWight got in touch with the council to ask a very simple question – were the 178 people with C19 in care homes included in the 200 figure from PHE?

It took a couple of days for the council to get back to us, but it was notable that they did not provide an answer to the question we asked, instead, they provided an answer to a question that we didn’t ask.

Their response was,

“At 20 May there were 28 confirmed Covid-19 cases in care homes, however at that time Public Health England only tested the first two symptomatic individuals in each care home, so the figure may be higher.”

Why this question is important
If there are 204 (as at 1st July) Covid-19 cases on the Isle of Wight and the number of people who have died is 82, that’s a 40 per cent death rate.

If there are, in fact, almost double the number of cases – the 204 plus the 178(+) from care homes – the death rate is significantly reduced.

An important fact when national newspapers look at the stats in order to rank areas around the UK in terms of risk.

As News OnTheWight has stated throughout the Covid-19 crisis, the true number of people with the virus is expected to be far greater, with many residents simply self-isolating upon experiencing symptoms.

Please answer the question
Going back to the response from the council, we weren’t interested in the snapshot from 20th May, we just wanted to know whether the 178 cases referred to in the scrutiny papers were in addition to the 200 (as at 3rd June) confirmed by PHE, or included in them.

Naturally, we went back to the council and asked them to provide an answer to the very simple question. They said Dr Simon Bryant (Director of Isle of Wight Public Health) would call to discuss, but after a run of missing each other on the phone, News OnTheWight reverted back this week to asking for a simple yes/no answer to our question in writing.

Two days later and we’re still awaiting the answer.

It’s a matter of public interest
What is it about the information that has made the Isle of Wight council and Public Health so reticent about answer our simple question – something that is clearly a matter of public interest?

As of 1st July 2020 Public Health England say there have been 204 confirmed cases of Coronavirus (Covid-19) on the Isle of Wight. Until the council or Public Health answer our question (of almost four weeks ago), we won’t know whether that included the 178 cases in care homes or not.

More unanswered questions
News OnTheWight is also still waiting for answers to other simple questions of public interest, asked six weeks ago (20th May). A quick reminder of the questions:

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 eighth question was answered in Parliament this week, when Lord Mann asked how many people had been traced via the Contact Tracing App.

The Isle of Wight council, Public Health Isle of Wight, and the department for Health and Social Care have all managed to swerve (fail to) replying.

Image: vykrasivy under CC BY 2.0

Thursday, 2nd July, 2020 12:24pm


ShortURL: http://wig.ht/2nLR

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

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2 Comments on "Why are Isle of Wight council and Public Health also avoiding answering a simple question on number of Covid-19 cases?"

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Rhos yr Alarch

This appears to be appalling! Perhaps Public Health needs a reminder about the “Public” bit of their name…?

Sadly, hardly surprising. The Conservative’s have allied the Coronavirus pandemic to fighting an invisible enemy, and we all know the first casualty in any war is the truth. Lying and misleading the public is part of the Tory’s DNA along with hiding behind Boris Johnson’s buffoonery and meaningless catch phrases, ‘shovel ready’, ‘whack-a-mole’ etc etc. Everyone knows how ill prepared the IW Council was, and how desperate… Read more »