Personal data of Covid patients accidentally uploaded to public server

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The personal data of every Welsh resident who tested positive for Covid-19 was accidentally uploaded to a public server.

It meant the details of 18,105 Welsh people were searchable by anyone using the site.

Public Health Wales said the data breach was the result of “individual human error”.

In the cases of 16,179 people, the information published consisted of their initials, date of birth, geographical area and sex.

But for 1,926 people living in nursing homes or other enclosed settings such as supported housing, or residents who shared the same postcode as those settings, the information also included the name of the setting.

The data was for every Welsh resident who had tested positive for Covid-19 between February 27 and August 30.

Public Health Wales removed the data on the morning of August 31 after being alerted to the breach. In the 20 hours it was online, it had been viewed 56 times.

A spokesman said there was “no evidence at this stage” that the data had been misused.

Tracey Cooper, chief executive of Public Health Wales, said: “We take our obligations to protect people’s data extremely seriously and I am sorry that on this occasion we failed.

“I would like to reassure the public that we have in place very clear processes and policies on data protection.

“We have commenced a swift and thorough external investigation into how this specific incident occurred and the lessons to be learned.

“I would like to reassure our public that we have taken immediate steps to strengthen our procedures and sincerely apologise again for any anxiety this may cause people.”

The Information Commissioner’s Office and the Welsh Government have been informed of the breach and an external investigation has been commissioned.

This will be led by the head of governance at the NHS Wales Informatics Service.

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