Two in five people in Havering may have had Covid-19, analysis shows

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Two in five people in Havering may have had Covid-19, according to an analysis by Edge Health. - Credit: PA

Two in five people in Havering may have had Covid-19.

A study by Edge Health suggests the percentage of cases in the borough is six times higher than the seven per cent recorded by January 3.

The analysis estimates there have been 110,000 infections out of a population of about 260,000, equivalent to 42pc, since the pandemic began. This represent the fifth highest percentage in England after Barking and Dagenham, Newham, Thurrock and Redbridge.

Dr Mark Ansell, Havering’s director of public health, said: "We have always been aware that the cumulative number of people testing positive for coronavirus is a gross underestimate of the actual number of residents who have been infected over the course of the pandemic – as testing was only available in hospital for those who were acutely unwell during the first wave and at least 30 per cent of cases are asymptomatic, so people are unlikely to come forward for testing. 

"At this point in time, the number of people infected over the course of the pandemic is of secondary importance to the number that are being infected now. All the evidence we have demonstrates this is very high – it’s likely one in 25 people may be infected - and infection rates are putting a massive strain on NHS services and resulting in increasing numbers of deaths."

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

Havering Council's director of public health Dr Mark Ansell. - Credit: LBH

Edge Health's research suggests as many as one in five people, or 12.4 million, in England have had Covid-19, which is significantly higher than the 2.4m reported cases from Public Health England.

Total cases were estimated by looking at each local authority’s Covid-19-related deaths as published by the Office for National Statistics and their estimated infection fatality ratio.

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This is calculated by looking at a local authority’s age profile and applying age-specific infection fatality ratios from University of Cambridge research.

George Batchelor, Edge Health's co-founder and director, said: “It is incredible that the level of understanding of where and how infections are occurring is not greater at this stage, since it would allow control measures to be more targeted.

“Even with imminent vaccinations, it is crucial to develop this understanding so that future variants of the virus can be effectively controlled and managed.”

Dr Ansell said: "Residents should aim to comply with the spirit as well as the letter of the current lockdown. 

"We have to act as if we and everyone we meet may be infected. Every contact is an opportunity for the infection to spread. So everyone should stay at home if at all possible. 

"If and when we do need to go out, we should maintain social distancing and wear a mask wherever we are legally required to do so. 

"If we develop symptoms we must isolate and get tested as soon as possible – getting tested is a valid reason to be out. If we test positive or are identified as a close contact of a positive case, we should isolate as legally required to do so," he added.