Sadiq Khan has warned tougher lockdown measures in London are ‘inevitable
Sadiq Khan has warned tougher lockdown measures in London are ‘inevitable’ after Richmond-upon-Thames became the capital’s new Covid-19 hotspot.
The London Mayor said any new restrictions would be imposed city-wide rather than borough-by-borough because ‘it’s the most effective way to reduce the spread of this virus’.
Mr Khan said his best guess was that London would be hit with new rules sometime next week when the Government officially unveils its three-tier traffic light system for local lockdowns.
He warned it was important to curtail the virus’s spread in the city before the pandemic gets to levels ‘we saw in March and April’.
But figures show London’s infection rate is just 59 per 100,000 people, which is the same as it is UK-wide and a fraction of the rates seen in hotspots in the North, where it’s as high as 550 per 100,000.
It comes as Richmond became London’s new Covid-19 hotspot after recording 112.1 new cases per 100,000 people in the week to October 5, double the 44.9 in the previous week.
A total of 222 people were diagnosed in Richmond during the seven-day spell – twice as many as the week before when 89 people tested positive.
But Richmond Council has called for an urgent review of the Government’s data before additional measures are placed on the borough, which is home to 190,000 people.
It claims that at least a quarter of cases actually tested positive in other parts of England, such as Leeds, Exeter, Manchester and Durham, which may be university students who have moved away from London but still have a home address there.
Kensington and Chelsea in west London, has an infection rate of 82, three times higher than a week ago when it stood at 26.3. Some 128 people were diagnosed within the last seven days.
For the first part of the pandemic, poorer parts of London, such as Newham and Brent, were hit worse by Covid-19, which scientists believe may be down to residents living in crowded homes where the disease spreads and being key workers, meaning they couldn’t shelter at home.
But now, Covid-19 is now hitting the wealthier boroughs of London, with Westminster, Wandsworth, Bromley and Hammersmith and Fulham all now seeing infection rates well above 50 per 100,000.
A statistical report published by the Government last month revealed coronavirus infections are soaring twice as quickly in the most well-off districts of England – particularly in white, wealthy under 35s.
London’s outbreak as a whole now shows signs of speeding up with the crisis in the North West, the worst affected part of England where cities Manchester and Liverpool and Blackpool are now battling some of the biggest Covid-19 outbreaks.
September and 4 October. Exactly a month ago, the North West’s case rate was 51.2 – it now stands at 272.8, meaning the capital is still miles behind. London’s infection rate the week before was 44.5, so it has risen by 34 per cent in seven days.
Richmond-upon-Thames is London’s new Covid-19 hotspot, data has revealed amid fears the capital’s outbreak is just four weeks behind the troubled North West. Pictured are infection rates in London in the week to October 5
Infection rates appear to be rising all over London, reaching higher levels in the west. Pictured are infection rates in London in the week to September 28
Richmond-upon-Thames, home to some 190,000 people, has now overtaken Redbridge as the most coronavirus-struck part of London, analysis by PA news agency shows.
Its infection rate of 112.1 new cases per 100,000 people in the week to October 5 is twice as high compared to a week ago, when there were 44.9 new cases per 100,000 people in the week to September 28.
Some 89 cases were diagnosed in that week to September 28. But the most recent set of data shows 222 people were diagnosed in the week to October 5 – and that’s only those who have symptoms and have been tested.
HOW FAR BEHIND IS LONDON FROM THE NORTH WEST?
The data shows how the infection rate in London and the North West have increased each week between July 5 and October 4.
Kensington and Chelsea, the smallest borough of London home to 160,000 people, is showing a similar demise, with the ninth worst infection rate of the capital. Its infection rate grew even more than Richmond’s in one week, by three times.
In Kingston-upon-Thames, the rate rose to 72.7 from 38.9 in a week. In Westminster it reached 68.5 from 35.2, with a similar picture in Bromley which has a rate of 56, up from 28.9.
Hammersmith and Fulham’s went up from 51.9 to 72.9 in the past week. Some 135 cases were diagnosed.
But Richmond’s council has rejected claims it is the most hard-hit borough of London after analysis of 421 positive test results reported in Richmond upon Thames since September 20.
It claims to have discovered that a large proportion of the positive cases in the borough are individuals who had their tests conducted far away from the area.
Almost half (40 per cent) have a missing the location of where the individual was tested, and almost a quarter of those the location is clear, test sites were as far away from London – including places such as Leeds, Exeter, Manchester and Durham.
Councillor Gareth Roberts, said: ‘This is the latest “Testing Shambles of the Week” and the Government needs to get a grip. This is not just a Richmond issue, it’s not even just a London issue; this is a national issue. Before any further restrictions are put in place the data needs to be cleansed and correct.
‘Some of our positive cases seem to be students who may have acquired the infection in other parts of the country. So why are they being attributed to Richmond?
‘People need to have the confidence in the data, if they don’t then how can we expect people to follow the rules. Come on Mr Hancock – we know your Government struggle with algorithms – but get a grip!’
While admitting the figures serve as a ‘wake up call’ for Richmond, Mr Roberts said the data had not shown any trends in who was testing positive and where.
He said: ‘There is no particular area in the borough that is being more directly impacted more than any others.
A public messaging sign on Richmond High Street on September 24. Some 89 cases were diagnosed in the week to September 28. But the most recent set of data shows 222 people were diagnosed in the week to October 5 – and that’s only those who have symptoms and have been tested
Richmond-upon-Thames, home to some 190,000 people, has now overtaken Redbridge as the most coronavirus-struck part of London, analysis by PA news agency shows
WHERE HAVE INFECTION RATES RISEN THE MOST?
Kensington and Chelsea 211.80%
Richmond upon Thames 150.00%
Kingston upon Thames 86.90%
Hackney and City of London 73.30%
Waltham Forest 55.20%
Hammersmith and Fulham 40.40%
Tower Hamlets 35.80%
Barking and Dagenham -3.00%
‘We know that a larger number of the cases are aged at under 30, however people aged over 30 are also becoming infected.
‘Because we can’t identify a common link between these cases, we need to all make sure we are following the rules. We need to make sure we are washing our hands wherever possible, wearing a face mask of covering properly when travelling on public transport, in shops, supermarkets or similar enclosed spaces.
‘We need to make sure we are following the rule of six… And of course maintaining the distance of two meters where possible.
‘If you are not following these rules, then you are part of the problem. If you are not following these rules, then you might not care about your own health, or you might not care about your own job. However, failing to follow the rules is directly impacting on other people’s health and other peoples jobs.
‘So for that reason alone, please, follow the rules and help stop the spread of the virus.’
When Covid-19 swept across Britain, the more deprived areas of London saw cases rise first. Those boroughs are still the most impacted by the pandemic.
Research has shown that Covid-19 hit the poorer areas harder during the start of the pandemic, with residents in Brent, Barking and Dagenham, Newham, Harrow and Hounslow all earning less than the London average wage, and being at higher risk of Covid-19.
Experts blame this on the fact they are more likely to work key worker jobs, such as in hospitals, live in areas with crowded housing where contact with Covid-19 cases may be more likely, and have more underlying health conditions that exacerbate infection.
And those parts have some of the most ethnically diverse populations in London — and it has been found that people of Black, Asian and ethnic minorities (BAME) are at higher risk of catching Covid-19.
But the data showing an increase of cases in the wealthier parts of London shows no-one is immune to the disease and coronavirus is widespread.
Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reveals cases of Covid-19 have been rising fastest among white, wealthy millennials in England since July.
Coronavirus infections are soaring twice as quickly in the most well-off districts of the country, compared to the poorest zones of towns and cities, an ONS statistical report, published on September 28, revealed.
And the Office for National Statistics data shows rates are also spiralling across the country for white under-35s, especially in affluent districts. But Covid-19 cases are not going up among young people of different ethnicities.
The report — based on tens of thousands of random swab tests carried out since the end of July — also showed travellers and holidaymakers returning from abroad, typically those who have a lot of money, are more likely to have tested positive for the coronavirus.
Socialising was directly linked to spreading the virus, with people who had met up with more friends during the six-week period of the study more likely to test positive, even if they claimed to have maintained social distancing.
And the Office for National Statistics data shows rates are also spiralling across the country for white under-35s. But cases are not going up among young people of different ethnicities
The report, which splits the population into quintiles (fifths) based on how deprived or wealthy they are, found that people in the least deprived areas were seeing rates of infection rise sharper than any other groups
WEALTHY MILLENNIALS FUELING THE SECOND WAVE
Rates of Covid-19 are rising fastest among white, wealthy millennials in England, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
The ONS report, released on September 28, considered people who tested positive for Covid-19 between July 23 and September 10, and looked at information about who was taking the tests.
‘Our positivity rates are presented for a reference region, and within each region positivity rates are increasing fastest in the least deprived quintiles in recent weeks,’ the report said.
The ‘quintiles’ are five groups the population is divided into based on deprivation, which is usually an indicator of how wealthy their home area is.
The data showed that, by September 10, 0.11 per cent of people in the most deprived areas (one in 910 people) were testing positive for coronavirus. But in the least deprived area, the infection rate was almost double at 0.21 per cent – one in every 480.
Deprivation, the ONS said, is judged on the average income in an area and also job availability, quality of education, crime rates, housing and the natural environment.
Another key finding of the ONS’s report was the stark difference between the speed at which coronavirus infections are rising in under-35s compared to over-35s.
More than 0.4 per cent of under-35s in the richest areas were testing positive each day by September 10, the data showed – one in every 250 people.
The positivity rate – the proportion of people tested who test positive – fell for less well-off groups but was still significantly higher than it was for people in the older age group.
The highest rate of infection for over-35s was less than half – lower than 0.2 per cent – in the wealthiest group.
And it appears to be white people who were testing positive most often; white under-35s returned a daily positive rate of 0.41 per cent in the most recent date – September 10 – compared to 0.13 per cent among people in other ethnic groups.
The opposite was true for older generations, who had a sickness rate of 0.11 per cent among white people and 0.18 per cent in non-white people.
There are also pockets of deprivation in the most wealthy parts of London. In Kensington and Chelsea, parts of the north have above average poverty rates and people on benefits.
In Richmond-upon-Thames, there are two clusters of wards in the north that appear to have significant risk factors for Covid-19, according to DataRich – a website designed for residents of the borough to access local data.
Hampton and Heathfield are amongst the most populous areas for those aged 65 years and over, and they, in addition to Whitton, Hampton North and Hampton Hill, tend to have higher prevalence of heart disease, respiratory disease and other conditions.
Despite cases in several parts of London creeping up, and a number being on the Government’s ‘watchlist’, there are 78 authorities in England with worse infection rates than Richmond-upon-Thames.
Nottingham, a university city in the Midlands, now has the most cases in England with almost 700 diagnosed per 100,000 people in the week to October 5. It was not on the most recent watchlist, published last Friday.
But looking at regions, the North West is significantly worse off compared to the other eight. It has 272.8 new cases per 100,000 in the week between September 28 and October 4.
Second behind it was the North East, with 240.9, followed by Yorkshire and the Humber (198.0) and East Midlands (99.9), PHE’s weekly national Influenza and COVID19 surveillance report, published yesterday, shows.
The North West has several of the Covid-19 hotspots – Manchester, Liverpool, Blackpool, Knowsley, Burnley, Hyndburn and Blackburn.
But it’s feared London, considered a region, is creeping up behind. It’s in a position that the North West was four weeks ago, with an infection rate of 59.9 compared to the North West’s 51.2 four weeks ago.
It’s yet to be seen if London’s cases will rise as quickly as the North West. Cases would need to go up by 4.5-fold in the space of a month to the start of November.
So far data shows London’s outbreak has been doubling every four weeks since the start of July – when a the majority of the nationwide lockdown restrictions were lifted, including the opening of pubs and restaurants.
For example, in the past four weeks it’s increased by 2.4-fold, from 24.5 cases per 100,000 to 59.9.
It suggests London could be looking at an infection rate of between 100 and 150 cases per 100,000 by the start of November if it follows on the same trajectory it currently is on.
London’s public health chief Professor Kevin Fenton, of Public Health England, has urged Londoners to ‘do your bit’ to stem the rise in cases and avoid further restrictions.
He tweeted: ‘Cases of COVID-19 are increasing in London. We must take action now and do everything we can to slow the spread. Follow our #TopSixTips and do your bit.’
TOWER HAMLETS’ RESIDENTS ASKED TO STOP SOCIAL MIXING
Tower Hamlets became the first London borough to ask residents to stop mixing last week.
The borough’s mayor John Biggs asked households to avoid meeting each other ‘unless absolutely necessary’ in an open letter due to a rise in coronavirus cases.
Mr Biggs called the situation a ‘matter of life and death’ and said urgent action was required, adding that the borough had one of the highest levels of Covid-19 in London.
In the week to September 28 there were 44 cases per 100,000 people, up from 38.5 the previous week, prompting Mr Biggs requests.
But since then, Tower Hamlets’ rate for the seven days to October 5 has gone up to 85.3, and 277 people were diagnosed.
The Labour mayor’s request comes independently from the national Government, who have so far not made any move to put restrictions in place, and cannot be enforced by the council.
Mr Biggs told MailOnline: ‘While it is the government that sets the lockdown rules, with the number of cases of Covid-19 in Tower Hamlets rising again I felt I had a duty of care to my residents to advise them to go further.
‘With many cases being a result of people visiting other households, I asked residents to avoid this unless absolutely necessary.’
He previously wrote on the council page: ‘Despite a fall over the summer, we are seeing cases of Covid-19 rise and we need to accept that the situation is once again worsening.
‘Tower Hamlets now has one of the highest levels of Covid-19 in London.
‘As a second rise in infections hits us, we must take all steps necessary to limit the spread of the virus and protect those most at risk.’
He added: ‘I am clear that the current national rules are a minimum and my advice to you all is to do everything in your power to protect each other.
‘Our individual actions have consequences for us all. The next few months will be very challenging.’