Young People Main Reason for Wandsworth Covid-19 Spike

New figures show many cases related to international travel

Unlicensed music event during pandemic
Unlicensed music event during pandemic. Picture: BBC/Snapchat

Coronavirus infections among young people in Wandsworth are contributing to a rise in the borough’s Covid-19 rate.

This Friday (28 August) official data released by Public Health England showed that between August 17 and August 23 the borough’s coronavirus rate rose to 17.2 per 100,000 up from 10.4 the week before.

Wandsworth council also released figures which showed that people under 40 – especially those in their 20s – account for many of the new cases.

Local politicians are urging residents to remember social distancing rules this bank holiday weekend to prevent a further rise.

This week there were 51 cases compared to 27 last week in the borough.

The council said that over the past seven days, Wandsworth had the fifth highest testing rate in London (1,046 per 100,000 residents).

A higher percentage of people tested positive for the virus this week – 2.1 per cent of those tested, compared to 1.2 per cent the week before.

Recent cases are predominantly among young people from a white ethnic background aged 18-39 and many are related to international travel, according to a council statement.

Cllr Melanie Hampton, the council’s cabinet member for adult social care and health, said: “If you are young I understand that you want to meet your friends, and that your chances of being seriously ill from covid are slight, but after your picnic or party you could be coming into contact with dozens of people who are vulnerable – on the bus, in a shop or people that you live with.

“You may not even notice you even have the disease, but I can assure you if an elderly person or someone with a long-term health condition catches it off you, then they probably will.

“We’ve all seen the news reports of the rise in cases in Europe, and we must do all we can to prevent that from happening here. We all went through so much during the lockdown to get this disease under control, we mustn’t allow numbers to creep up again by becoming complacent about social distancing.

“Keep your distance, wash your hands, wear a mask in shops and on public transport and avoid large gatherings. Let’s work together and protect each other.”

The rise in cases among young people is common across the capital, according to Public Health England.

In a statement released this morning, Professor Paul Plant, London deputy regional director for Public Health England, said rates of coronavirus in young people have been rising over the past two weeks in the capital.

He added that the highest number of positive test results are now among people aged 20-29 across the city.

“This contrasts with overall rates for London boroughs which remain low compared to other parts of the country but we are concerned about this increase in Londoners in their twenties.

“Lockdown has been a tough time especially for young people and we know many are now enjoying the benefits of being able to go on holiday, eat meals out, go shopping and see family and friends again, but it’s crucial that we do these fun things safely.

“Even if you are in a lower risk age group, please keep London safe for everyone by following government advice on social distancing, self-isolation, wearing face coverings and practising good hand hygiene so we can keep coronavirus at bay and avoid the possibility of local lockdown.”

In neighbouring Richmond, coronavirus rates fell this week from 19.3 per 100,000 to 8.1.

Likewise, Kingston saw a drop in figures to 8.0 this week from 13.7 the week before.

Sian Bayley - Local Democracy Reporter

August 29, 2020