Care home visits stopped and masks in schools advised as Barking and Dagenham coronavirus cases rise

Schools are being advised to enforce the use of face coverings in communal areas. Picture: Jane Barl

Schools are being advised to enforce the use of face coverings in communal areas. Picture: Jane Barlow/PA - Credit: PA

Barking and Dagenham Council has stopped care home visits and asked headteachers to enforce face masks in schools after an explosion of cases.

The number of people testing positive for coronavirus has almost doubled in the borough this month with health experts saying they had “two to three weeks” to stem the tide of cases before local lockdown measures could be introduced.

In the whole of August, the borough saw 120 people diagnosed with Covid-19.

That number has almost been matched with 116 new cases reported in the first two weeks of September, the Health and Wellbeing Board heard on Wednesday, September 16.

Director of Public Health Matthew Cole told the meeting: “We are no longer fluctuating. This is an upward trend and a fast moving tide of cases in London.

“We are now starting to mirror what has been happening in Birmingham and up in the north west. There is concern in London.

“We are in a position in Barking and Dagenham, Havering, Redbridge and Newham where we have probably got two or three weeks to put in counter measures to try and stem this before we get into an area of intervention if the cases have been going up at the rate they have been.”

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Women accounted for 54 per cent of the new cases, with those aged 30 to 49 most likely to be diagnosed.

Mr Cole said new cases were also linked to people aged 15 to 30 returning from European holidays and the Eat Out to Help Out scheme which ran in August.

Whalebone, Longbridge and Dagenham Heathway were the wards which saw the highest rises in infections.

Mr Cole said he had advised schools to introduce masks in corridors and communal areas and told parents to wear face coverings when picking children up and dropping them off.

A “protective ring” has also been put around care homes with visitation “back on lockdown status” and testing of staff and residents a priority.

Mr Cole added: “Redbridge and Havering have also followed suit. It has been a failure of a significant part of the population to adhere to the Covid prevention measures. We do not want to get to a position like up north.”