Wandsworth Hit Comparatively Hard By Coronavirus

Report shows infection rates above London and national averages

Wandsworth is among the London boroughs most affected by coronavirus, according to a recent report into the council’s response to the pandemic.

The paper revealed that as of April 28, 898 people in the borough were confirmed to have the virus, but this was “likely to be an underestimate” due to testing largely being limited to those admitted into hospital.

The total number of confirmed positive cases in Wandsworth has been in the top quartile of London boroughs with a rate equivalent to 270.5 cases per 100,000 residents.

This is higher than both the London and England median rates of 243.2 and 185.7 per 100,000 population respectively, the report said.

As of April 26, 258 people had died of COVID related deaths registered in Wandsworth, but this may include people who usually live elsewhere. Comparable data on deaths is not yet available.

81 people living in local care homes in the borough have died due to coronavirus as of April 24, alongside four people in extra care schemes and two people in learning disability care homes. A further 15 people who received social care services from the council have died.

The council is also aware of the death of at least one care staff member in a Wandsworth care home.

However, the report notes that data supplied directly by care homes to regional bodies does not prompt for this information, so the full situation is not yet known.

According to the council’s analysis of calls to its community hub, there are higher call volumes in areas associated with deprivation, such as the area around the Alton Estate in Roehampton and the Kambala Estate in Latchmere ward. The report also notes national reports into variation of rates of infection and deaths according to age and possibly BAME background.

It said: “The over representation of people from BAME communities has become a global and national question; and has led to the government commissioning a formal review which will be led by NHS England and Public Health England with work by the British Medical Association.

“Potential drivers have been suggested, including socio-economic, policy and or biological factors. The council will examine the findings of the review when it is published, and any recommendations it may have for local authorities.”

Wandsworth Council has so far received £17.8m from the government to help respond to coronavirus.

The report said additional coronavirus-related costs are expected to cost the council between £12 to 16m. But income loss, mainly relating to parking and leisure services and other fee income, is estimated to be around £20 to 24m. It said the amount of money the council has received from the government so far will not cover all of the council’s additional costs and lost income.

The report concluded: “The COVID-19 pandemic has and will continue to have a substantial and sometimes tragic impact on the lives of Wandsworth residents, its businesses and on the council’s operations.”

It praised the “incredible effort of the council’s staff,” but noted that the pandemic will have a “material impact” on the council’s finances.

“As the pandemic moves into the next phase, the council will coordinate a recovery plan to support the borough, its residents, the self-employed and employers through the relaxing of lockdown measures and the reopening of the wider economy,” it said.

Councillors will discuss the report at the Finance and Corporate Resources Overview and Scrutiny Committee, which will be held virtually on May 7.

Sian Bayley - Local Democracy Reporter

April 30, 2020

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