Deptford residents fear for health amid Covid-19 safety concerns

By Grainne Cuffe, local democracy reporter

Residents in a Deptford estate fear for their health as construction workers are entering their homes amid surges in Covid-19 cases.

Lewisham Homes, the council’s housing manager, is carrying out major fire safety works on blocks on the Pepys Estate, with workers from four different contractors going in and out of homes.

“Fire risk assessments have identified the essential elements that require works to be carried out as a matter of urgency in order to improve the fire safety of our residents and their homes.

“The majority of the work is to prevent fire and smoke from spreading between rooms, flats and communal areas,” according to the organisation.

Workers are checking doors, walls, floors, ceilings, and electrical and plumbing installations, while checking homes are fire safety compliant.

But amid rising coronavirus cases residents are concerned the number of construction workers coming in and out is a health risk.

Cases in Lewisham have surged in the past two weeks, with more than 1,000 cases per 100,000 people.

On Sunday, the UK recorded a further 54,940 cases and 563 deaths. The latest Government figures show that University Hospital Lewisham has 408 Covid-19 patients, with 35 on ventilation.

On Monday Chris Whitty, England’s chief medical officer, warned that the NHS is facing its “worst weeks” of the pandemic, while many hospitals have reported they are on the brink of being overwhelmed.

One resident on the estate said his neighbour is shielding and therefore cancelled the works on her home but was told she would need a valid letter from her GP or they would carry out the work anyway.

Resident and trustee of the estate’s community centre Moira Kerrane questioned why works would be postponed in the first lockdown but not now, when cases are soaring.

“There is a high density of social housing tenants and BAME tenants. Covid prevention is the only critical work we need here,” she said.

Other residents have said the works are impacting their mental health because of the anxiety around catching the virus.

Lewisham Homes is set to make a new announcement on the works later today.

But according to its current position: “We believe the Covid situation and lockdowns have increased the urgency of these works, not least concerning the replacement of the lateral mains, given the increased electricity demand from more residents staying in their home.

“We intend to continue with the works as long as we can do so within Government guidelines.

“Our contractors have all received specific training on Covid safety.”

 


 

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