Council admits there is a 'long way to go' before 'cracking' the virus

An NHS worker hold a dose of the Pfizer vaccine in the Gloucestershire Vaccination Centre at Glouces

Barking and Dagenham's Covid-19 cases have dropped, but the virus remains highly transmissible. - Credit: PA

Barking and Dagenham is "over the worst" of this wave of the  pandemic but there is a "long way to go", the council's cabinet member for health has said.

That was the message from Councillor Maureen Worby, the town hall's social care and health integration cabinet chief, at a meeting on Wednesday (January 13).

Cllr Worby said: "We are over the worst, but we have a long way to go before the vaccine cracks [the virus]."

In the week up to January 10, there were 3,020 new cases in the borough, which represents a 12 per cent drop, according to government figures. There were 3,439 the week before.

Ceri Jacob, who is managing director of the borough's clinical commissioning group (CCG), said there is concern that now numbers have plateaued people could stop using face coverings.

"They can't. We're not safe for a good few months yet," she warned.

Dr Jagan John, who chairs Barking and Dagenham CCG, described his disappointment that some patients testing positive refuse to isolate and put others at risk.

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He explained how some members of black, Asian and ethnic minority communities, a section of the population most at risk, are not always willing to come forward for jabs.

This is because they believe conspiracy theories about the vaccination, including the false idea it has a microchip in it.

Cllr Sade Bright said she knew of people trying to persuade others via WhatsApp groups, texts and emails not to take the inoculation.

Cllr Worby said: "We all know that the [black, Asian and minority ethnic] community was disproportionately effected by the virus and, now there's a hope of protecting themselves, they say they don't want to take it. It's counter-intuitive."

Professor Kevin Fenton, London regional director for Public Health England, said on January 15: “We have more difficult weeks ahead. This more contagious variant means we are unlikely to see sharp declines like we did in the first wave. The longer cases remain high, the more deaths we will see. 

“That is why we must work twice as hard to reduce transmission and lower infections."