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Barking and Dagenham is ‘close to the trigger point’ as a place to watch for rising Covid-19 cases, meeting hears

PUBLISHED: 17:00 10 September 2020

Barking and Dagenham has seen 57 to 60 positive cases of coronavirus in the two weeks up to September 7. Picture: Luke Acton.

Barking and Dagenham has seen 57 to 60 positive cases of coronavirus in the two weeks up to September 7. Picture: Luke Acton.

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Barking and Dagenham’s director of public health has warned the borough is close to becoming an area to watch as a result of rising coronavirus cases.

Tony Chambers is King George and Queen's Hospital's chief executive. Picture: BHRUTTony Chambers is King George and Queen's Hospital's chief executive. Picture: BHRUT

Matthew Cole said Barking and Dagenham is “close to the trigger point” to being an area to watch in terms of the number of cases per 100,000 of the population, with 25 being the benchmark.

Mr Cole added that, along with Redbridge, Newham, Tower Hamlets and Havering, a “significant” increase in numbers has been seen.

The numbers are “small” and principally affecting younger adults, including a spike among 15 to 16-year-olds across the capital due to partying after the GCSE results.

There are also issues among the 15 to 29 age group due to social mixing and returning from holidays, Mr Cole told a meeting of Barking and Dagenham Council’s watchdog health scrutiny committee on Monday (September 7).

He said: “We don’t know yet, in London, whether this is the start of it kicking off, in terms of a second wave, or just a slow rising tide.

“With schools going back, universities going back and the opening of the economy we are starting to see a rising tide of cases.

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“Unlike the first wave, we seem to be picking up more cases than most, particularly in the BHR [Barking and Dagenham, Havering and Redbridge] area, so it’s definitely one to watch.”

He added that at the moment it is not having an impact on hospitals or mental health services, estimating the area has seen 57 to 60 cases in the past two weeks.

Tony Chambers, chief executive at Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals, warned that this winter could be the worst the NHS trust has seen.

Mr Chambers said: “Every year people say this winter will be the worst on record, and it very rarely is.

“But, unfortunately, I think this winter might well be with flu, with a future peak of Covid.”

He added that health authorities need to prepare together and think about how to support people in crisis, which didn’t mean “defaulting” to hospital because that could have an impact on non-urgent surgeries.

He identified five areas to focus on now: raising public confidence so people come back to hospitals; staff wellbeing; preparing for a future wave; getting ready for winter and resetting elective services.

He explained the trust probably has two to three months to get on top of waiting lists while Covid-19 is at a low level in communities.


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