Local Covid-19 data shows unequal spread

A map showing total cases of Covid-19 for each ward in Enfield
A map showing total cases of Covid-19 for each ward in Enfield

Report by Simon Allin, Local Democracy Reporter

The latest statistics on the impact of coronavirus on Enfield show how the virus has had a disproportionate impact on certain groups of people.

Council data show a higher number of Covid-19 deaths in more deprived areas in the east of the borough and a disproportionate impact on people in care homes, those with underlying conditions, ethnic minorities and routine and manual workers.

Public health experts presented the statistics at a meeting of the health and wellbeing board last week, where the government faced renewed criticism over care home testing and the provision of Covid-19 data to councils.

The figures show there were 385 Covid-19 deaths in Enfield up to 26th June, 93 of which – almost a quarter – were in care homes. The virus peaked in Enfield when 38 cases were recorded on 16th April. Roseanna Kennedy-Smith, from Enfield’s public health intelligence team, said recent data showed there are now “between nought and three cases in a day”.

“In terms of where we are seeing the cases, cumulative cases are generally highest in wards that score least favourably or low in terms of the deprivation index,” she added.

Cockfosters bucked the trend with 77 cumulative cases, which Roseanne said is “potentially due to the number of care homes located in the ward”. The figures show Cockfosters and Southgate saw the highest number of deaths from Covid-19 in care homes, with more than 20 in each ward.

When care home deaths were taken out of the figures, Upper Edmonton saw the highest number of fatalities (25), followed by Jubilee (18) and Enfield Highway (17).

“When we exclude care home deaths, we can see deaths are occurring in the most deprived wards – these were the wards where deaths were the highest,” Roseanna said.

Mortality figures showed there were a higher proportion of deaths from Covid-19 among those from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) groups than those from a white British background. The statistics also reveal a disproportionate impact on those with underlying conditions, routine and manual workers – such as carers, drivers, labourers and carpenters – and health and social care professionals.

Roseanna said: “We are seeing a high risk of death in routine and manual workers. This is something we might have expected – these are people-facing jobs and at a high risk of being exposed to Covid-19 due to their professions.”

The team’s findings come after a report from Public Health England showed BAME communities, older people, men, those with specified underlying health conditions and people in deprived areas are disproportionately affected by Covid-19.

Council leader Nesil Caliskan told the meeting there was “still not regular mass testing in care homes” – despite the roll-out of the government’s test and trace system. She added that one care home in the borough that was selected for large-scale testing showed a high proportion of those tested had Covid-19 without showing symptoms of the virus.

Cllr Caliskan called on the government to provide individual-level data, rather than postcode-level data, from the test and trace programme, as this would allow councils to respond better to possible Covid-19 outbreaks and help those who are self-isolating.

Vivien Giladi, health team lead for Enfield Over 50s Forum, said: “It is impossible not to register disappointment at the way the government has been tardy in responding to the urgent needs of councils like Enfield, particularly with their high level of deprivation.”