By Lachlan Leeming
Numbers of patients in south-east London hospitals stricken with coronavirus remain low but are slowly increasing, one of the region’s health bosses has told a board meeting.
In a wide-ranging update to a Bexley Council scrutiny committee, the authority’s director of public health Dr Anjan Ghosh also said London could enter Tier 3 or “something worse” by the end of November if numbers across the capital continue to dramatically rise.
The health head told councillors the overall Covid-19 position in London was “one of escalation” and it was now a question of “how big the second wave gets”.
He also provided more details around Bexley’s position within the city – saying it was “not totally accidentally or chance” the borough has among the lowest rates of infection in London.
Dr Ghosh added there was a two-to-three week lag between case rates and the “knock-on effect” which would be seen in hospitals, meaning hospital admissions were likely to spike in mid-November.
He added that any move to Tier 3 – the strictest level of lockdown – “is anybody’s guess”.
“The data needs to be seen in context- hospital admissions, level to which hospitals are being overwhelmed, (the) situation in care homes,” he told Bexley councillors.
London as it stands was “not close to getting to Tier 3 just yet, but obviously time will tell”, adding that “with the doubling we’re seeing it might well be by the end of November we might be looking at that (Tier 3) or something worse.”
He said capacity in the south-east’s hospitals remained steady but a slow rise was “quite concerning”.
Dr Ghosh explained that the health body doesn’t get data from all acute care wards – meaning it was hard to paint an accurate picture of how many emergency beds are being taken up by coronavirus patients.
However he said figures for the Lewisham and Greenwich Trust – where most Bexley patients go – remained low.
Sky-rocketing case numbers recorded across the country were “partly a reflection of testing capability” but also reflective of an “escalating situation”.
Dr Ghosh said negotiations were underway for Bexley’s second coronavirus testing site – with a proposal for a new site under the flyover of the Abbey Wood Cross Rail due to be submitted to the Department of Health on Thursday.
While Bexley had the lowest rate in south-east London currently, it and neighbours Bromley, Lewisham, Greenwich were all seeing their numbers increase.
Bexley has recorded 318 coronavirus cases in the two weeks leading up until October 20.
Of those, 146 were in the last week.
He said that currently 4.6 per cent of people in the borough who were tested for Covid-19 were returning positive result – meaning “the vast majority with Covid-like symptoms don’t have Covid”.
While that was a “good news story”, the trend was important he said – saying that three weeks ago positive results were just .71 per cent.
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