Excel glitch means almost 16,000 confirmed Coronavirus cases going unreported in the UK

The problem was caused by an Excel file which reached its maximum size during an automated transfer process. Although Excel is widely used, experts say it has limitations for use in much larger projects.

15,841 cases were not tabulated in the United Kingdom between September 25 and October 2. This means that health officials could not contact thousands of their close contacts. Those that had tested positive had been told, though around 50,000 of their contacts were not traced. For the test and trace program to be effective, contacts should be notified as soon as possible.

Although today’s Excel spreadsheets can handle 1,048,576 rows and 16,384 columns, the developers in this case used an older Excel format (XLS instead of XLSX), meaning that each template was only able to store around 65,000 rows of data (around 1,400 cases). If you need to have a lot of data in Excel, make sure you’re using XLSX instead of XLS.

To find Excel files on your PC, click the search bar and type ‘xls’. This will bring up both XLS and XLSX Excel files.

If you have a folder of Excel files, you can sort them by size by clicking the top of the ‘Size’ column in File Explorer.

If you’re having issues with Excel, we can help you out. Get it touch to see what we can do for you.

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