Call to remain vigilant despite Barking and Dagenham Covid-19 figures fall

A coronavirus vaccine is prepared by a health care assistant

More than 70,000 people have had a first Covid jab in Barking and Dagenham. - Credit: PA

People have been urged to remain vigilant following the easing of Covid-19 restrictions.

Barking and Dagenham saw 54 new cases of the virus in the week up to April 15, according to the council.

The borough's rate was 25 cases per 100,000 people up to the same date. This compares to a previous peak of 1,700 per 100,000.

Councillor Maureen Worby, cabinet member for social care and health integration, welcomed the lower figures, but urged people to carry on being careful.

"The virus is still out there. We will have to have annual injections. We need to control it. Vigilance is our new by-word," she said.

Cllr Worby was speaking to town hall chiefs at a meeting on Tuesday, April 20.

She urged people to continue getting tested so the authorities know where the virus is and have a better chance of controlling it.

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Council leader, Cllr Darren Rodwell, said the best defence against the virus is to get the vaccine in his weekly online update.

"It's the quickest way we will be able to get on with our lives again," he said.

He added that more than 70,000 people have had a first jab in Barking and Dagenham.

Eighty-six per cent of people in the borough aged 80 plus have been vaccinated.

Seventy per cent of care and social workers have been jabbed as well as 84pc of those aged 70 plus, 79pc of those 60 plus and 75pc of people aged 50 or more.

Cllr Worby acknowledged there were problems with some groups not getting inoculated.

She sought to reassure cabinet colleagues that faith leaders are helping the council tackle the issue.

She added: "The pressure we have to think about now is the size of hospital waiting lists.

"My appeal to anybody is if you are asked to go to a hospital, it is safe. It's probably the safest it's ever been because of the awareness of infection."

The cabinet chief described the backlog at hospitals as "huge".

"We don't want it to get worse because people aren't attending," she added.

In total, 23,550 people have contracted Covid-19 in Barking and Dagenham and the borough has seen 542 deaths.