The number of confirmed reported cases of coronavirus in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly has jumped by almost 300, seemingly overnight.

On Wednesday the figure for the region sat at 595 and had been rising by only one or two cases per week for the last month.

However, when the figures were updated by Public Health England yesterday evening this rose to 882.

The reason for this, however, is not a sudden outbreak but a change in the way that cases are reported.

The issue was raised earlier this week, by Cornwall councillor Colin Martin who is vice chairman of the council’s health and adult social care overview and scrutiny committee.

He revealed there was a discrepancy in reporting the figures of new cases, which was laid bare last week when the official statistics claimed that there had been just three positive case in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly - but it had been widely reported that an outbreak had occurred at a Liskeard care home with 11 people testing positive.

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The reason for this is that here are two sets of figures which are collected by the government known as pillar one and pillar two tests.

The first set covers all tests which are undertaken at hospitals and at the testing centres which are run nationally by Public Health England.

But the second set covers all tests which are undertaken at mobile testing centres that have been set up around Cornwall and any done by post, including those at care homes.

A message on the government's website now explains that it had updated the method it uses to report positive cases of Covid-19, to remove duplicates within pillars one and two, to ensure that a person who tests positive is only counted once.

It adds that there was an "issue with the data for pillar two," which meant updates on the number of people being tested had been paused.

Earlier this week Cornwall Council said it had been left "frustrated by the lack of transparency" in the way localised Covid-19 data was released by the government, adding: "Unfortunately there are a number of discrepancies with the pillar two testing figures supplied to us by Public Health England, and our public health team is in the process of verifying this information in order to accurately reflect what we know about cases of Covid-19 in Cornwall.

“We are not permitted to share the data without Public Health England’s permission, and any breach of that agreement would risk PHE withdrawing their data provision, which would inevitably have serious implications for our population as a whole and our ability to respond to the pandemic. We hope to have an agreement in place with PHE soon which will allow us to do so."

However, it stressed that the discrepancies in the data had "not in any way hindered" its ability to produce its Local Outbreak Management Plan or respond to the pandemic.

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