'Small number' of Covid cases are confirmed in Parliament
‘Small number’ of Covid cases are confirmed in Parliament as SNP MP Margaret Ferrier still refuses to resign after 800-mile round trip with symptoms
- A number of positive coronavirus cases have been confirmed in Parliament
- Commons authorities refusing to confirm how many or if any MPs are affected
- Comes in the wake of SNP Margaret Ferrier travelling 800 miles with Covid
Parliament is undergoing a deep clean today after a number of confirmed cases of coronavirus.
A ‘small number’ of people have tested positive for Covid-19 across the Parliament Estate – which encompasses the Houses of Commons and Lords, and Portcullis House – used by more than 200 MPs and their staff.
A spokesman refused to confirm specifics on the numbers of cases, when they fell ill or details of individuals affected.
This comes as pressure intensifies on SNP MP Margaret Ferrier to quit after doing an 800-mile round trip to Parliament while suffering from Covid symptoms.
And it follows the test and trace shambles, with the news that 16,000 people who tested Covid-positive last week went unreported because of a ‘computer glitch’.
Pressure is intensifying on SNP MP Margaret Ferrier to quit after doing an 800-mile round trip to Parliament while suffering from Covid symptoms
A ‘small number’ of people have tested positive for Covid-19 across the Parliament Estate
Excel bungle masked daily cases hitting 11,000
Yesterday, a staggering rise in coronavirus cases was recorded in Britain as the Department of Health announced 12,594 more positive tests – more than triple the 4,368 that were recorded a fortnight ago.
Last Monday’s data, which would usually be a good point of reference, is now unreliable because of a catastrophic counting error at Public Health England, meaning September 21 is the most recent Monday with an accurate number.
Officials confirmed that the huge number was a clean count that did not include any cases left over from the weekend’s data blunder at Public Health England that saw 16,000 test results from the past week tacked onto Sunday night’s update.
Instead, the more than 12,000 new infections emerged after the fog had cleared from the counting catastrophe – believed to have been caused by an Excel problem in outdated software at PHE – and marked one of the biggest one-day rises so far for Britain.
The extraordinary meltdown was caused by an Excel spreadsheet containing lab results reaching its maximum size, and failing to update. Some 15,841 cases between September 25 and October 2 were not uploaded to the government dashboard.
As well as underestimating the scale of the outbreak in the UK, critically the details were not passed to contact tracers, meaning people exposed to the virus were not tracked down.
The technical issue has now been resolved by splitting the Excel files into batches.
A spokesman for Parliament told MailOnline that its ‘dedicated test and trace team’ was working with suspected or confirmed cases on the Estate and contacting anyone they had come into contact with.
There is no indication that the confirmed Covid cases are connected to Ms Ferrier.
The Rutherglen and Hamilton West MP admitted last Thursday she had travelled to London while awaiting results for a Covid-19 test, and back to Glasgow after the screening showed she was positive, both by train.
Ms Sturgeon and other senior SNP figures have called for her to go, but the £82,000-a-year MP remained silent over the weekend about her future.
The First Minister announced on Twitter she had told Ms Ferrier, who she described as a friend, she should step down.
Asked at the daily coronavirus briefing in Edinburgh about when the SNP knew the circumstances of Ms Ferrier’s trip, the First Minister said yesterday: ‘Patrick Grady (SNP chief whip) didn’t know last Monday or Tuesday that Margaret Covid has suspected or confirmed Covid.’
Ms Sturgeon made the same slip of the tongue at the briefing on Friday, when she denounced Ms Ferrier’s conduct and said she believed she should step down as an MP.
The First Minister repeated her appeal to the MP on Monday, while defending her party’s handling of the case, saying it had ‘acted to the maximum of what we can do’.
Ms Ferrier had the whip removed when her trips became public.
Earlier, the leader of the SNP at Westminster called on Ms Ferrier ‘to do the honourable thing’ and resign.
Scotland Yard confirmed it was looking into Ms Ferrier’s admission that she travelled 400 miles from Glasgow to London while awaiting the results of a test, and then took the train back after being told it was positive.
Ms Ferrier could face a £4,000 fine for a first-time offence of ‘recklessly’ coming into contact with others when she should have been self-isolating under a law that came into force on the day of her positive test.
Nicola Sturgeon (left) called Margaret Ferrier (right) ‘Margaret Covid’ for a second time as pressure grows on the SNP MP to quit after travelling while suffering coronavirus symptoms
A Parliament spokesman said: ‘Confirmed cases of COVID-19 continue to rise across the country and we are seeing evidence of that with a small number of cases on the Parliamentary Estate.
‘However we will not be providing specifics on numbers of cases or details of individuals affected.
‘Parliament’s dedicated test and trace team is working effectively in support of test and trace teams across the UK acting as a central point of contact in the event of any suspected or confirmed cases, where an individual has been working on the Estate.
‘All relevant contacts are quickly contacted and advised to self-isolate.
‘We have been implementing enhanced cleaning measures to ensure those working on the Estate can maintain a clean and hygienic working environment.
‘The House’s priority is to ensure that all those on the Estate are kept safe while Parliamentary business is facilitated and, as always, the Speakers and political leadership of both Houses are keeping these matters under constant review.’
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