Just over 2.4 million people in England and Wales tested positive for Covid in 2020. We do not know the total number who have been infected, but it is probably much higher, because many people are not tested.
What are NOIDs?
Doctors have a legal duty to inform their local authority or Health Protection Team when they come across a case of an important infectious disease, or if they suspect one.
A PHE spokesperson told us: “NOIDS reports are simply one route for clinicians to report suspected cases of COVID-19, which may or may not be subsequently confirmed. They do not in any way represent a total number of confirmed cases.”
What went wrong on social media?
Several people on social media have taken the number of times a doctor reported a suspected Covid case through NOIDs and mistakenly claimed that it shows the total number of actual Covid infections.
By our count, there were in fact 18,152 disease notifications of Covid through NOIDs last year. However, there were far more notifications by labs testing for SARS-CoV-2, the infectious agent that causes Covid, including 235,250 in the last week of the year alone.
People with Covid symptoms are advised to get a test, but not to visit their doctor, which may be part of the reason why doctors reported so few cases of the disease through NOIDs. Since Covid became widespread in the UK, and began to be monitored in other ways, it is also possible that doctors felt there was little need to continue notifying PHE about each case.
This article is part of our work fact checking potentially false pictures, videos and stories on Facebook. You can read more about this—and find out how to report Facebook content—here.
For the purposes of that scheme, we’ve rated this claim as false
because far more than 13,844 people tested positive Covid in England and Wales in 2020.
You’ve probably seen a surge in misleading and unsubstantiated medical advice since the Covid-19 outbreak. If followed, it can put lives at serious risk. We need your help to protect us all from false and harmful information.
We’ve seen people claiming to be health professionals, family members, and even the government – offering dangerous tips like drinking warm water or gargling to prevent infection. Neither of these will work.
The longer claims like these go unchecked, the more they are repeated and believed. It can put people’s health at serious risk, when our services are already under pressure.
Today, you have the opportunity to help save lives. Good information about Covid-19 could be the difference between someone taking the right precautions to protect themselves and their families, or not. Could you help protect us all from false and harmful information today?