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Postcode-level coronavirus testing data is being withheld from publication due to councils’ fears it could lead to certain communities being stigmatised.
HuffPost UK understands some local authorities have raised concerns about the government’s plan to make public detailed testing data, first revealed on this website.
Health secretary Matt Hancock has raised the issue at cabinet.
Councils are worried that releasing the data could lead to people in certain areas becoming stigmatised – for example if those in particular neighbourhoods test positive in larger numbers than others.
They are also concerned this could damage community cohesion, and that giving out data in too much detail could lead to individuals or families being identified.
The issue of detailed coronavirus testing data has come under the spotlight after Leicester was placed into a local lockdown following an outbreak.
Following a row over a “lost week” in the city, when the status of a local outbreak was not clear to council and public health leaders due to a lack of information, all councils began to get access to granular postcode data late last month.
Government officials wanted to make the data public, with the first tranche slated for release two weeks ago, but the information has been held back after councils raised their concerns, a Whitehall source said.
It came as Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham called on the government to share more data privately with local authorities so they could better manage infections in their areas.
He said ministers were “at risk of not observing their own law” by failing to provide daily data, which identifies patients, to councils.
The Labour former health secretary also called for clarity on the threshold for government intervention if there was an outbreak.
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