South London boroughs are among the worst hit by cases of coronavirus as the pandemic stretches out across the country – and west London is taking the brunt.
The latest figures come as health chiefs and supermarkets are urging families not to panic and overload an already heated care network and supply system – and food banks face a massive squeeze.
The figures are constantly updated, but before we went to press yesterday there were 32 cases in Southwark and 22 in Lambeth – they are the fifth and sixth worst local authority areas in the country for the infection.
But Kensington & Chelsea, with 40, had the highest in the capital yesterday.
And Westminster had the second highest tally of patients with the condition – 35.
That puts them second and third highest in the country, after only Hampshire, which has 53 – all spread out over a county 300 times the size of the London boroughs.
The latest figures give the number of patients in Hammersmith & Fulham as 19 and, across the Thames, Wandsworth at 17. Lewisham has 11 cases and Merton nine.
But Lewisham residents have continued to donate to the local food bank – though there are fears stockpiling may hit its ability to access essential goods.
A spokesman said: “At the moment, we are asking for donations of toilet roll, UHT milk, long life juice, tinned vegetables and pasta sauce. We would also appreciate tins of meat and fish.”
“School closures would impact families who receive free school meals.
“So many of our clients do not have the means to stockpile food.”
Emma Revie, chief executive of the Trussell Trust, said: “It is possible that food banks will face increased demand as people lose income, at the same time as food donations drop.
“All of this comes when food banks are already dealing with a record level of need for emergency food.
“Food banks will continue to provide the lifeline of emergency food to people unable to afford the essentials, and we encourage the public to continue donating after checking with their local food bank what items are most needed.”
Wandsworth food bank has asked people to consider donating hand sanitiser.
Sarah Chapman, a volunteer and trustee at Wandsworth Foodbank, said: “We’d love to be able to give out hand sanitiser to guests, but it’s hard to come by – so if anyone or businesses want to donate, that would be great.
“We’ll do all we can, but we’d urge local and national government to ensure our benefits system is the life raft an increasing number of people will need, and need now.”
Donations have also fallen for charity Little Village, in Balham, which operates like a food bank for baby clothes.
Programmes manager Rebecca Wilson said: “Being self employed and losing work could be enough to tip families who were just coping into crisis.
“We believe many of our families will struggle to get the essential items they need.
“There is a chance we’ll be asked to close in line with schools and community groups at some point in the near future, but until then we’d really like to encourage people to continue to donate essentials such as nappies, wipes, and toiletries.”
Bexley and Bromley each have seven cases of the infection.
Pictured top: A volunteer at Hammersmith and Fulham food bank (Picture: Reach PLC/Grahame Larter)
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