At least eight Havering schools confirm Covid-19 cases as care home outbreaks begin

A school pupil wearing a face mask. Picture: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire

A school pupil wearing a face mask. Picture: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire - Credit: PA

A “steady stream” of schools in Havering are seeing positive Covid-19 tests as the pandemic enters its second wave.

At a meeting of Havering Council’s Health and Wellbeing board on Wednesday, it was heard that at least one school, Frances Bardsley Academy, had to temporarily close due to the virus. It will open on Monday September 28.

Emerson Park Academy, Harris Academy, Drapers’ Academy, Havering College, Hall Mead Secondary, Harold Wood Primary and Newton’s Primary are among those with positive cases that have instructed staff and students to isolate.

Havering’s director of public health Mark Ansell said: “We are having a steady stream of outbreaks in schools, some of them quite significant. In at least one case, the whole school has closed for what they are describing as a ‘reset’.

“It’s inevitably going to get into the vulnerable sections of the community unless we can control it this time.

“We are trying to open additional testing sites but obviously it’s a national system and the bottleneck is currently in the lab.”

Dr Ansell said there had been an “apparent reduction” in cases this week but warned this could be partly due to the limited number of tests.

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He told board members the return to school meant more of the borough’s limited number of tests were being used for children, who are thought to be less likely to contract the virus.

He was “fairly certain” this was part of the reason for new cases decreasing this week. He also reported that seven of the borough’s care homes are now experiencing outbreaks, with two or more staff or residents infected, compared to “one or two at worst” during the summer.

There are currently 1,390 cases in the borough – 92 new cases in the latest week (September 15 to September 21), which is an increase of 20 compared to the previous week.

The rate of infection is 35 per 100,000 people. For local lockdowns across the country, in most cases the rate has been around 40 before tighter restrictions are imposed.

The infection rate for Redbridge currently stands at 56. At least 10 Redbridge schools have confirmed cases, including at an infants’ school.