The Daily Mail has come under fire for confusing Bedford and Milton Keynes in a list of 36 areas that could be at risk of a second coronavirus lockdown.
In the wake of the news that Leicester was the first city to be ‘locked down’ again, the national newspaper revealed 36 other towns and cities that could be also facing a reintroduction of tighter measures.
But in what appears to be a complete misunderstanding of how Bedford is part of the ‘MK’ postcode, they reported Milton Keynes was at high-risk.
This is despite the Buckinghamshire town, which is 20 miles away, having lower cases reported than Bedford.
The story has been lazily repeated in many national and local news papers and websites without further fact checking.
Meanwhile, responsible journalists at the MK Citizen have worked hard to quell fears Milton Keynes is at risk.
Using facts, Sally Murrer, reported: “Strangely, neighbouring Bedford was not on the lockdown list.
“Yet Bedford, which has a population of around 160,000 compared to MK’s 230,000, has seen well over 800 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and more than 200 deaths.”
It has also been widely reported by the Bedford Independent, the BBC, ITV and other responsible news desks that coronavirus cases in Bedford are not falling as quickly as they are in other areas.
To find out why, Public Health England and the Joint Biosecurity Centre are carrying out a ‘deep dive’ investigation with health teams at Bedford Borough Council and Bedfordshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.
This morning, the Bedford Independent also urged the Health Secretary, Matt Hancock MP, to publish the Borough’s pillar 2 testing data.
The inclusion of this data could mean the true number of coronavirus cases is double that reported by Public Health England (PHE).
“This irresponsible report and lack of due diligence by some in national media proves why readers must support news sources that check their facts,” said Bedford Independent’s managing editor, Erica Roffe.
“We take our role in reporting facts very seriously, especially at a time when fake news and rumour can create worry and fear.
“I am grateful to our nearby colleagues at other responsible local news desks for helping to set the record straight.”
We contacted the Daily Mail who said they were looking into it.