Havering's coronavirus death toll passes 750

Havering Council's director of public health Dr Mark Ansell.

Havering director of public health Mark Ansell - Credit: Havering Council

More than 170 Havering residents died of Covid-19 in the first three weeks of January – bringing the total to more than 750.

Figures published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed the borough’s death toll in the first three weeks of 2021 was equal to 29 per cent of the death toll for the whole of 2020.

Dr Mark Ansell, director of public health, said last week he was "in awe" of healthcare workers, who faced "unrelenting pressure",

He said the high number of deaths being recorded was “unlikely to come down for a few weeks yet."

Recent deaths from the virus included Rainham GP Abdul-Razaq Abdullah, 68, who spent a month in Queen's Hospital before passing away.

The father-of-five's death prompted a fundraising campaign which collected more than £9,000 for orphans in poverty.

Dr Abdul-Razaq Abdullah with his grandson Yusuf.

Dr Abdul-Razaq Abdullah with his grandson Yusuf. - Credit: Dr Abdul-Razaq Abdullah's family

Beloved knee surgeon Dr Kandiah Ratnakumar also lost his life to the virus at age 69, having returned to work months after retiring, to help cope with a surgical backlog caused by Covid-19.

The total number of Havering residents lost to the virus, up to January 22, is 769.

The majority – 637 – died in hospital. But the figures were based on people’s addresses, so did not include people from outside Havering who died at Queen’s Hospital.

Kandiah Ratnakumar

Dr Kandiah Ratnakumar returned to work months after retiring, to help clear the surgical backlog caused by Covid-19. Then the virus took his life. - Credit: The Ratnakumar family

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The data, for deaths where Covid-19 was listed on a person's death certificate, includes deaths outside medical settings, which take time to register.

According to the ONS, the real number of coronavirus deaths in England, up to January 22, was 117,378. The figure given out by the government that day was 99,717.

Dr Ansell said Havering's infections were falling, but from “a dangerously high mark”. They were still at the same level they had been in early December, by which time Havering had already been one of the UK’s most-infected boroughs for more than a month.

He also ONS data showed roughly 400 excess deaths in Havering in 2020 – 18pc more deaths than in an average year – which mostly occurred during the first wave.

“With the vaccination now available and being taken up by a large number of adults and people in vulnerable groups, I would expect the death rates to start returning to the historical average in the coming year,” he said.