Havering coronavirus cases still on the increase

COVID cases in Havering are still rising, particularly among children and Asian residents.

The borough’s director of public safety Dr Mark Ansell said that unlike more than half of London boroughs, Havering’s Covid cases had yet to start declining under lockdown.

Speaking to the council’s Health and Wellbeing Board today he said that last week there were days where almost half of the borough’s secondary school pupils were not in school.

A graph showing rates of infection among different ethnic groups showed the rate of Covid in Asian residents was double that of white and black residents.

Dr Ansell suggested the large number of Havering residents who provide informal care for relatives may have contributed to increased spread between generations.

He told the board: “Just over half of London boroughs are improving, cases are going down, but that is not the case in Havering.

“Rates amongst children are still going up and going up very fast. The rate for residents under 18 is the same as for working-age adults.

“(Covid rates are) likely to peak at just under 400 infections per 100,000 residents, that’s the equivalent of a thousand new cases a week.”

The number of COVID patients in hospitals across the Havering, Redbridge and Barking & Dagenham area rose from around 40 at the end of September to 245 last week.

Fiona Peskett, programme director of Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs Queen’s Hospital in Romford, said this was creating “massive bad pressure”.

A quarter of the trust’s hospital beds are occupied by COVID patients. She noted that Manchester hospitals were widely reported to be facing a crisis when 30 per cent of beds were occupied.

She added that one solution being considered is using beds in the mental health facility Goodmayes Hospital, located very close to King George Hospital in Ilford.

Dr Ansell added that the council was expecting to learn what tier London would be placed in once the national lockdown ends on December 2.

He said: “Trying to get it exactly right for London will be difficult. There is enormous variation in rates across London.

“Our rates increased well into Tier 2 and only now, while in lockdown, have started to show signs of improvement.

“London will probably be Tier 2 but we are going to need some additional interventions. The limiting factor will be the resources we are given.”

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Victoria Munro

Local Democracy Reporter