LOCAL leaders in England have faced difficulties in managing their new Covid-19 outbreaks due to gaps in the reporting of data for cities and regions.

A Financial Times investigation found that while the UK Government publishes a UK-wide figure for coronavirus cases each day including tests from hospitals and home samples, on a subnational level the reported cases only contain hospital tests.

In Leicester, local political leaders and health official told the newspaper this data gap is one reason for a delay in locking down the city after a spike in cases.

Leicester’s published data showed there were 80 positive tests found between June 13-26, but when the Health Secretary announced plans to put the city back on lockdown he revealed there were actually 944.

Public Health England’s published data contains two categories – pillar one, tests from hospitals, and pillar two, from commercial labs that process at-home and drive-through testing numbers.

The body releases full data for England’s nine main regions with a two-week delay – but the areas included do not give local authorities a picture of the situation in their communities.

Meanwhile in Wales, the government publishes data from hospital tests and commercial labs every day.

According to the Financial Times, Leicester’s city council public health leaders were only shown the elevated pillar two figures on Thursday, and were not able to compare them with places elsewhere because they were only made available to officials in their own local authority after signing the Data Protection Act.

Kate Ardern, who leads health protection and emergency planning for Greater Manchester, said she and colleagues had been expressing concern over the data to ministers for months.

She said: “If I don't know who is being tested, and getting positive tests, in the community because one of the major elements of the testing system isn't currently sending me complete and reliable intelligence … it actually hampers our ability to get ahead of the curve on outbreak management.”

In York, the city council revealed with pillar two testing data that there was actually twice as many coronavirus cases as previously reported.

Meanwhile on Good Morning Britain, host Piers Morgan addressed the issue of the majority of new Covid-19 cases being left out of public data.

"It’s blatant lying again. It’s a total scam. There are two pillars of cases and they’re only identifying the first one, which is the very insular one involving health care workers and key workers who get testing.

“They’re not including the vast majority of cases, so this has snuck up on the people of Leicester.

“This is the Government data on cases and this is why there’s no trust in the Government – because they’re once again smoke and mirrors.’

“If Matt Hancock had the guts to come on here we’d be asking why have they not been including Pillar 2. Why have you not been including the vast majority of cases? Why have you allowed this to happen?”

The UK Government stresses more information will be given to local health officials this month, and said since June 11 NHS Digital had made available a data dashboard with a breakdown of test numbers per local authority of Directors of Public Health.

The Department of Health and Social Care said: “We have been working closely with our local partners, providing them with the resources and tools so that they can take swift action to deal with any new local spikes in infections.”