How Havering’s coronavirus figures compare to the last time we went into lockdown
- Credit: Steve Poston
Daily coronavirus cases in Havering are just higher now than they were in the week leading up to the March lockdown.
But as government implores the public to follow new rules to halt the spread, there is little sign yet of the massive strain on the NHS which was unleashed six months ago by the virus.
On March 23, the day the UK was plunged into its first lockdown, 637 people were hospitalised in London with Covid-19.
On Sunday September 20, the number was 38.
This is despite figures showing that cases in parts of London, including Havering, have been on an upward trajectory since late August.
In the week to September 14, an average of 10.7 coronavirus infections were being diagnosed every day in Havering.
In the week leading up to the March lockdown, it was 10.4 per day.
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For weeks, the council has warned of the risk of a local lockdown.
Scientists stressed this week that there was no evidence the virus had become any less deadly.
So why are hospitalisations not keeping pace with infections?
“The age group with the sharpest rise in infections in August and September was the 20-30 and 30-40 age group,” said Hornchurch GP Dr Ben Molyneux.
“The health risk of Covid to these age groups is much lower than to older adults or those with health conditions, and so they are less likely to be admitted to hospital.”
But, he warned, young people would inevitably spread the disease to older, more vulnerable people.
The latest UK death figures, published by the Office for National Statistics, give data up to the week ending September 4.
In that week, Havering had its first Covid hospital death since mid-July.
The virus can take weeks to cause symptoms, meaning the number of recorded infections “reflect the actions of the population two weeks ago,” said Dr Molyneux.
It then takes several more weeks for resulting hospitalisations and deaths to occur.
This was what happened during the first wave.
Even though the country went into lockdown on March 23, daily infection rates in Havering tripled over the following weeks.
By the week ending April 6, Havering was recording 29.6 new cases per day.
So the true extent of the latest outbreak will not be known for weeks – and the death toll until weeks after that.
It will also take weeks to discern whether new government rules have had any impact on the spread.