Covid-19 Cases in Wandsworth Now Half Peak Levels

Significant number of cases continue to occur in local care homes

There have now been over 600 deaths at St. George's Hospital

It’s been nearly a month since the third national lockdown was announced to bring down coronavirus cases.

The latest wave of the virus has put immense pressure on hospitals, but the beginning of the vaccine rollout has brought some much-needed hope.

Wandsworth councillors received an update on the local situation at last Wednesday night’s Adult and Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee (27 January).

The borough’s Director for Public Health, Shannon Katiyo, said the local coronavirus case rate has continued to fall “significantly”.

It is now below 395 per 100,000 over a seven day period compared to a peak of 847 per 100,000 at the beginning of January.

Nevertheless he cautioned there is an “exceptionally long way to go” to get to the low levels seen over the summer last year, and these numbers are still very high.

Director of Adult Social Care and Public Health, Liz Bruce, said 15 of the borough’s 32 care homes are affected by coronavirus as of Monday (25 January 25). At this point, 46 staff and 35 residents were positive.

She explained that care home staff now have two lateral flow tests a week as well as a weekly PCR test, as many cases are without symptoms.

Mr Katiyo said the vaccine effort across South West London has been “absolutely phenomenal” and “significant progress” has been made, particularly in vaccinating over-80s in the borough with their first dose of the vaccine.

He said some are now moving on to their second dose of the vaccine. The vaccination team in South West London has visited 21 of the borough’s care homes and offered them the vaccine and around 80 per cent of care home residents have received their first dose.

He said the team are now beginning to contact those who are housebound and in priority groups.

However, vaccine hesitancy remains a “concern” and Wandsworth is developing its own communications programme to encourage uptake.

Chief Executive of St George’s Hospital Jacqueline Totterdell said the hospital is currently operating 129 intensive care beds. This is double the usual number of 66.

Currently 87 patients in intensive care are Covid-positive and a further 238 coronavirus patients are being treated on the wards.

In order to open these extra beds, anaesthetists and ward staff have had to be used to help support critical care nursing.

This means the hospital can only open up its elective programme when the number of ICU beds are reduced.

Fortunately, Ms Totterdell thinks the hospital is nearing the peak for coronavirus patients in intensive care and hopes these numbers will soon start going down.

But so far more than 600 people have died with or of the virus at the hospital since March 2020.

In more positive news, the hospital has discharged 1,740 coronavirus patients since March 2020 and approximately 7,000 staff have been vaccinated against the virus in the hospital.

Currently the hospital is giving out between 500-550 vaccines a day.

Sian Bayley - Local Democracy Reporter

January 28, 2021