Image above: Mayor of London Sadiq Khan; BBC photograph
London at a ‘Tipping point’
The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan says he is ‘extremely concerned’ by the evidence of the way Covid-19 is spreading in London. He has expressed the ‘firm view’ that action should be taken to stop the spread. Restrictions could include a ban people socialising with others outside of their household or support bubble.
In a statement on Friday 18 September he said:
“It is increasingly likely that, in London, additional measures will soon be required to slow the spread of the virus. We will be considering some of the measures which have already been imposed in other parts of the UK.”
On Tuesday 22 September the Prime Minister announced new Covid restrictions for the whole of England. On Friday 25 September London was placed on the Government’s watch list of cities showing a worrying rise in Covid infections. 620 new cases were confirmed in London on Friday.
The watch-list, published each week, categorises local councils seeing a higher infection rate as “areas of concern”, “areas of enhanced support” or “areas of intervention”. London Councils, the group which represents all the 32 London boroughs, announced London was joining the list and that all of the London boroughs are listed as “areas of concern”.
Map showing London boroughs (the way they are coloured bears no relations to Covid-19 statistics)
Hounslow one of the highest for Covid cases per head of population
Looking at the latest figures on Monday 28 September, Hounslow is ranked seventh in a table of local authority areas in London showing how many people have tested positive for coronavirus in the week leading up to 26 September and whether the number is on the rise.
It shows that in Hounslow 112 people tested positive in the week to 24 September, with a rate of 41.2 per 100,000 of population. Ealing had 133 people testing positive, with a rate of 38.9.
Compare this with Redbridge at the top of the table – 208 new cases last week, with a rate of 56.2 per 100,000 and Merton at the bottom of the table, with just 36 cases last week and a rate of 17.4.
Last week (the week leading up to 26 September) every single London borough showed an increase in cases. In the previous week (which would include the end of the 10 day period after the flower market was held) Hounslow was showing a decrease in cases.
One reason for Hounslow’s relatively high position in the table might be that the availability of testing has been better here than it has in inner London. Hounslow leader Steve Curran told The Chiswick Calendar that the availability of testing had been relatively good here.
Mayor demands more testing for London
Mayor Khan said last week that testing capacity had been “diverted away” from the capital to other national hotspots, causing the number of tests in the city to drop by 43%.
“The lack of testing capacity is totally unacceptable,” he said. “It’s vital that testing capacity is increased immediately in London and focused in the areas it is needed most. Any delay will mean letting the city down and will cost lives.
“London is at a very worrying tipping point right now. We’re seeing a sharp rise in 111 calls, hospital admissions and patients in ICU”
Sadiq Khan talked to Boris Johnson last Tuesday and is now in regular contact with him.
“They discussed the rapidly worsening situation in London, including increasing ICU admission rates, and the need to go further now to prevent a disastrous full lockdown in future including mandatory face coverings for hospitality workers and more widespread wearing of face coverings” the Mayor’s spokesman said.
“It is clear that London has unique needs and challenges and additional measures need to be examined which are suitable for the capital.
“Sadiq and the PM agreed to speak more regularly.”
‘Covid figures do not reflect the real picture’ Kelly O’Neill
LB Hounslow’s Director of Public Health Kelly O’Neill says the official figures for people who have Covid-19 do not reflect the full extent of the pandemic in London.
‘We know that the current testing provision in London isn’t able to offer tests to everyone who needs one. What we do know, and what matters, is that cases are rising rapidly across London as a whole, and more people are needing hospital treatment’.
Kevin Fenton, the head of Public Health England in London, disclosed the fall in testing during the meeting between leaders of London’s 32 boroughs, medical experts and Mayor Sadiq Khan, according to the Evening Standard.
‘According to one source who took part in the private virtual meeting, Professor Fenton made clear that the current testing levels alone could not track the progress of the disease in the capital’.
They know the rate of infection is higher than the figures of those tested would suggest, from the number of admissions to hospitals and the increase in 111 calls.
Ms O’Neill said:
‘Even if you are in a lower risk age group, and not as worried about coronavirus symptoms, please keep Hounslow safe for everyone by following government advice on social distancing, self-isolation, wearing face coverings in crowded spaces (inside and out) and practising good hand hygiene; if we do this we contribute to keeping coronavirus at bay.
‘Don’t forget how awful things were during the peak of the first wave. We saw 238 people die in Hounslow and hundreds more were seriously sick, many of whom are still suffering the ill effects’.
Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar