An interactive map which reveals coronavirus deaths by postcode shows that people living in the poorest parts of England and Wales are dying at more than double the rate of those in affluent areas.
The map, included in the latest Office for National Statistics report, found that the most deprived regions suffered 55 deaths per 100,000 people, compared to 25 fatalities in the wealthiest areas.
The report analysed 20,283 virus deaths registered in England and Wales from March 1 to April 17, which means it is two weeks out of date and thousands of fatalities have not been included.
London – the epicentre of Britain’s outbreak – had the highest mortality rate, with 85.7 deaths per 100,000 people – more than double the national average of 36.2 fatalities. One in four of all coronavirus victims live in the capital.
The London boroughs of Newham, Brent and Hackney were the three worst-hit regions in all of the country, suffering 144, 142 and 127 deaths per 100,000, respectively.
Boroughs in the capital accounted for all of the top ten local authorities with the highest COVID-19 death rates, the report showed.
Hastings, in affluent East Sussex, and Norwich had the lowest COVID-19 death rates – suffering six and five deaths per 100,000, respectively.
Charities said today the news that the poorest in society were being hit the hardest by the crisis was ‘worrying, but unfortunately not surprising’.
It comes as Health Secretary Matt Hancock used tonight’s No 10 daily press conference to announce the country had hit its 100,000-a-day testing target – but he was immediately accused of fiddling with the figures.
Mr Hancock hailed success at the Downing Street briefing, revealing that there were 122,347 tests yesterday. But it emerged that the Department of Health is counting home tests kits that have been sent out – but not necessarily returned and processed.
The Health Secretary also announced there had been 739 more deaths – which include fatalities in care homes and hospitals – in the last 24 hours, taking Britain’s official fatality toll to 27,510.
The interactive map breaks down the number of COVID-19 deaths by so-called ‘Middle Layer Super Output Areas’ (MSOAs) which have an average population of 7,500. The ONS uses MSOAs to get a more accurate local breakdown of statistics. Some MSOAs may include more than one postcode
A second interactive map breaks down the number of COVID-19 deaths per 100,000 people for every local authority in England and Wales
Death rates from all causes are higher in poorer areas, the ONS said, but the pandemic appears to be pushing the rates even higher
Boroughs in London accounted for all of the top ten worst hit local authorities, the report showed
A map shows the deaths across England and Wales with train lines overlapped
The Government should be wary about reopening schools too early as scientists do not fully understand the extent of coronavirus transmission between children, an NHS chief has warned.
NHS England’s national medical director Professor Stephen Powis said the ‘science is still evolving’ on how much children contribute toward virus spread, adding: ‘We do need to be cautious as we think of reopening schools.’
His comments came at the daily Downing Street press conference in response to a question from a member of the public.
Asked whether parents would be fined for not sending their children to school when learning centres are reopened, Health Secretary Matt Hancock vowed the Government would only allow pupils to return when it was safe to do so.
Mr Hancock said: ‘We are not going to reopen schools if it isn’t safe.
‘Of course, as and when we reopen schools, our goal is to get back to the norm and the position as it was before.’
He added: ‘It’s important to remember the reason we had to take the decision to close schools was because of the impact of schools on transmission, not on the safety of children.’
Professor Powis added: ‘The science is still evolving in terms of transmission between children, so we do need to be cautious as we think of reopening schools and we will need to think carefully and advise the Government with appropriate advice as to how that might happen.
‘But the key thing is this is not a serious disease for the vast, vast, vast majority of children and indeed young people.
‘There have been some very rare reports about complications in children, we are continuing to look for that and trying to understand if there is any link.
‘But the overall message is for children this is a mild disease.’
In other coronavirus developments today:
A separate report by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) released today found black and Asian Britons are two-and-a-half times more likely to die from COVID-19 than whites.
Ethnic minority groups – who are most vulnerable to COVID-19 – make up the majority of residents in Newham (71 per cent) and Brent (64 per cent).
Whereas the overwhelming majority of residents in Hastings and Norwich are white, with just 9 per cent and 6 per cent coming from minority backgrounds.
Experts say those living in poverty smoke and drink alcohol more, and are more likely to be obese – all of which increase the likelihood of chronic health conditions.
Patients with pre-existing health troubles struggle to fight off COVID-19 before it becomes life threatening.
And poor people are also more likely to use public transport more often and live in crowded houses – driving up their chance of catching and spreading the virus.
The second worst-hit area behind London was the West Midlands, where the death rate is 43.2 per 100,000. The report analysed 20,283 virus deaths registered in England and Wales from March 1 to April 17.
Javed Khan, chief executive of the vulnerable children’s charity Barnardo’s, said: ‘The news that more deprived areas of the country have a higher mortality rate from coronavirus is worrying, but unfortunately not surprising.
‘This crisis is highlighting deep-rooted inequalities that have been papered over for decades. Vulnerable children and families – and those already experiencing disadvantage – risk becoming the forgotten victims.
‘Without intervention this crisis will be devastating for a whole generation – their mental health, safety, education and job prospects are on the line.
Matt Hancock tonight claimed the Government had met its 100,000-a-day testing target. However, it has emerged that the Department of Health is counting home tests kits that have been sent out – but not necessarily returned and processed
The NHS Nightingale hospitals should be kept open until a sustained reduction in admissions is assured, the medical director of NHS England has said.
Professor Stephen Powis said the critical care temporary hospitals set up to aid the coronavirus effort will need to be kept ‘as an insurance policy in the next month or two’ until it can be certain that the NHS will not be overwhelmed.
Professor Powis also warned that the hospitals were designed specifically to deal with Covid-19 and may not ‘be fit for purpose’ for other types of healthcare activity.
Responding to a question from a member of the public at Friday’s Downing Street press conference on whether the NHS Nightingale hospitals will be used after the pandemic, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the Government ‘will do what we need to do to reduce NHS waiting lists as we reopen the NHS’.
He added: ‘But the Nightingales were designed very specifically for patients who are intubated and therefore who are under anaesthetic. So they are specifically designed for COVID-19.’
Professor Powis said: ‘Those hospitals are designed in a particular way for a particular purpose and that doesn’t necessarily mean that they would be fit for purpose for other types of NHS activity.
‘Now of course we also need to keep them as an insurance policy in the next month or two because we need to be confident, as I said, in the five tests that we have a sustained reduction in hospital admissions.
‘But of course we always keep things under review going forwards.’
The NHS Nightingale project saw hospitals erected in London, Birmingham, Manchester, Harrogate, Cardiff, Glasgow, Belfast and Bristol ready to provide hundreds of extra beds if local services needed them.
The first of the temporary field hospitals was built in east London’s ExCel centre to hold as many as 4,000 COVID-19 patients, but to date this capacity has not been needed.
‘The Government must ensure that the emergency funding and resources already announced reaches those in need without delay. And in the months ahead funding decisions should reflect the scale of the challenge now facing vulnerable children and families.’
Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary, Jonathan Ashworth, said: ‘This is a devastating confirmation that the virus thrives on inequality, with people living in more deprived areas seeing COVID-19 mortality rates more than double those in less deprived areas.
‘Labour has long warned of shameful health inequalities which mean the poorest contract illness earlier in life and die sooner.
‘COVID-19 exacerbates existing inequalities in our country. Ministers must target health inequalities with an overarching strategy to tackle the wider social determinants if ill health.’
The ONS report also found the fatality rate is six times higher among those living in major cities than in rural areas. No rural area had a death rate higher than 21.9.
The report found the fatality rate was higher among men in the most deprived areas (76.7 deaths per 100,000 population) than it is for women (39.6).
In Wales, the most deprived regions suffered 44.6 coronavirus deaths per 100,000 population – nearly double the least deprived areas (23.2 deaths).
Death rates from all causes are higher in poorer areas, the ONS said, but the pandemic appears to be pushing the rates even higher.
Nick Stripe, Head of Health Analysis, Office for National Statistics, said: ‘People living in more deprived areas have experienced COVID-19 mortality rates more than double those living in less deprived areas.
‘In contrast, the region with the lowest proportion of COVID-19 deaths was the South West, which saw just over 1 in 10 deaths involving coronavirus.
‘The 11 local authorities with the highest mortality rates were all London boroughs, with Newham, Brent and Hackney suffering the highest rates of COVID-19 related deaths.
‘People living in more deprived areas have experienced COVID-19 mortality rates more than double those living in less deprived areas.
‘General mortality rates are normally higher in more deprived areas, but so far COVID-19 appears to be taking them higher still.’
London had the highest mortality rate, with 85.7 deaths per 100,000 people – more than double the national average of 36.2 fatalities. The map breaks down each borough by level of deprivation
The map on the left shows clusters of coronavirus deaths (highlighted in green) in all 32 boroughs in the capital. On the right, lvels of deprivation in each area in London are highlighted from purple (least) to white (most) based on what percentage of the population is living in poverty
London , the heart of Britain’s outbreak, had the highest mortality rate, with 85.7 deaths per 100,000 people – more than double the national average of 36.2 fatalities. The second worst-hit area was the West Midlands, where the death rate is 43.2 per 100,000, closely followed by the North West (40)
The report analysed 20,283 virus deaths registered in England and Wales from March 1 to April 17. It also found the fatality rate is six times higher among those living in major cities than in rural areas. No rural area had a death rate higher than 21.9
Commenting on the findings, David Alexander, professor of risk and disaster reduction at University College London, said that poorer people were more likely to already have underlying health conditions such as diabetes or obesity – which drives up their risk of dying from the virus.
He told MailOnline: ‘In addition, many of these people do key jobs where they are not protected – they may work in supermarkets, be delivery drivers or work in factories or food plants.
‘They have to go to work in order to survive and are inadequately protected. They might need to take public transport to get to work, which means they are forced into close contact with others.
‘Death from the virus are more accentuated in healthcare workers, many of which are ethnic minorities who we know are more vulnerable to the illness becoming life-threatening.
‘Hospital workers – from doctors and nurses, to porters – are receiving greater exposure to the disease, which can make it more potent.’
Professor Alexander said that those in densely populated cities would find it harder to observe social distancing, increasing their chances of catching COVID-19.
…AND WHAT % OF THE POPULATION ARE ETHNIC MINORITIES?
Newham – 71%
Brent – 63.7%
Hackney – 45.5%
Tower Hamlets – 54.9%
Haringey – 39.6%
Harrow – 57.8%
Southwark – 45.9%
Lewisham – 46.5%
Lambeth – 43%
Ealing – 51.1%
…AND WHAT % OF THE POPULATION ARE ETHNIC MINORITIES?
Norwich – 9.3%
Hastings – 6.4%
Grimsby – 2.6%
Stockton-on-Tees – 5.5%
Scunthorpe – 4.1%
Plymouth – 3.9%
Weston-super-Mare – 5.5%
Lincoln – 3.4%
Worthing – 6.3%
Bournemouth – 11.6%
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: ‘Any death from this disease is a tragedy and we are working incredibly hard, day and night, to protect the nation’s public health.
‘We have commissioned urgent work from Public Health England to understand the different factors that may influence the way someone is affected by this virus. We will set out full details in due course.’
It comes after an Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) report found the death rate among Black African Britons was three times that of the white British population.
An Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) report found the death rate among Black African Britons was three times that of the white British population.
The UK’s testing guru has said it is ‘encouraging’ that new evidence emerging out of South Korea suggests those who have fought off coronavirus might develop an immunity afterwards.
Fears had been sparked that hopes of creating a natural ‘herd immunity’ against the deadly virus might have been lost after almost 300 cases in South Korea emerged of people who had seemingly contracted Covid-19 a second time.
But the country’s Central Clinical Committee for Emerging Disease Control announced that the cases of allegedly reinfected people was due to a testing fault, and not a short-lived immunity.
Professor John Newton, the UK’s testing effort co-ordinator, said the announcement was ‘promising’ when asked about the findings.
Speaking at the Downing Street daily coronavirus briefing on Friday, Professor Newton said the science on immunity was ‘still emerging’ but called the fresh findings from South Korea ‘promising’.
‘A general rule would be that you would never make a decision based on a single study, so we would very much want to see that result replicated in other studies before we decided that was really the case,’ he said.
‘It is obviously promising. I think people have said before in these briefings that it would be very surprising if there was no immunity after infection, but at the moment the science is still not precise about how much immunity you get and how long it lasts.
‘But, nevertheless, results such as the one you mention are encouraging.’
The IFS said there was ‘unlikely’ to be a single explanation for the higher fatalities, but noted that minorities were more likely to be key workers.
Of all working-age Black Africans, a third are employed in these roles – 50 per cent more than the white British population, according to the think-tank.
Meanwhile Pakistani, Indian and Black African men are 90 per cent, 150 per cent and 310 per cent -more likely to work in healthcare than white British men, respectively.
Hospital workers are vulnerable to the virus because they are repeatedly exposed to higher doses of the bug than the general public.
The IFS adds that two-thirds of Bangladeshi men over the age of 60 have a long-term health condition that would put them at particular risk from infection.
Another possible factor behind disproportionately high death rates could be underlying health problems, the report said.
Wwo-thirds of Bangladeshi men over aged 60 have a long-term condition that would put them at particular risk from infection.
Ross Warwick, a research economist at IFS and co-author of the report, said: ‘When you account for the fact that most minority groups are relatively young overall, the number of deaths looks disproportionate in most ethnic minority groups.
‘There is unlikely to be a single explanation here and different factors may be more important for different groups.
‘For instance, while black Africans are particularly likely to be employed in key worker roles which might put them at risk, older Bangladeshis appear vulnerable on the basis of underlying health conditions.’
Professor Tim Cook, honorary professor in anaesthesia at the University of Bristol, said: ‘The disproportionately high number of BAME health and social care workers dying from Covid-19 is striking, so I welcome news that NHS England has recommended these individuals to be identified as potentially at greater risk.
‘Our analysis showed 60 per cent of healthcare workers who have died from coronavirus were BAME individuals.’
Far higher numbers of people from black and Asian backgrounds have died from COVID-19 per 100,000 people than white Britons, despite making up much less of the overall population. ‘Other whites’ include Gypsy and Irish Travellers, and ‘other ethnic group’ includes Arabs
The IFS report found Pakistani, Indian and black African men are respectively 90 per cent, 150 per cent and 310 per cent more likely to work in healthcare than white British men
Experts say there is unlikely to be one sole reason as to why ethnic minorities are being killed by the virus.
They could also be more at risk because of their professions, according to Shaomeng Jia, an economics professor at Alabama State University’s College of Business Administration.
Those working in retail, in supermarkets and in construction – who cannot work from home – were still mingling and risking infection even when the outbreak peaked, she said.
Meanwhile, health care jobs, including NHS workers and care home staff are exposed to bigger loads of the virus more often, according to Ross Warwick, a research economist at IFS.
Members of ethnic minority communities are twice as likely to be affected by poverty, and are often hit the hardest by chronic diseases.
Those living in poverty smoke and drink alcohol more and are more likely to be obese – all of which increase the likelihood of chronic health conditions.
Patients with pre-existing health troubles struggle to fight off COVID-19 before it causes deadly complications such as pneumonia.
Impoverished people are also more likely to use public transport more often and live in crowded houses – driving up their chance of catching and spreading the virus.
The Royal College of Surgeons has said NHS workers from black or ethnic minority groups should be removed from the frontline as more evidence points to them being more vulnerable to the virus.
It comes after charity Oxfam warned the coronavirus pandemic could push half a billion people globally into poverty.
A report from the Nairobi-based charity last month looked at the impact the crisis will have on global poverty by shrinking household incomes and consumption.
The report found the world would be far worse hit than after the 2008 financial crisis.
It said: ‘The estimates show that, regardless of the scenario, global poverty could increase for the first time since 1990.’
The report added this could mean some countries revert to poverty levels last seen three decades ago.
Report authors explored a number of scenarios to assess how poverty levels could change.
The most serious scenario would result in a 20% squeeze on incomes.
It would mean the number of people living in extreme poverty – $1.90 a day or less – would rise by a staggering 434 million, to nearly 1.2 billion people worldwide
Women are at much greater risk than men because they are more likely to work in the informal economy with little or no employment rights.
Under the same scenario, those living in higher poverty, $5.50 or less, would jump by 548 million to almost four billion people.
The report warned: ‘Living day to day, the poorest people do not have the ability to take time off work, or to stockpile provisions.’
It added that more than two billion informal sector workers worldwide had no access to sick pay.
The World Bank said last week that poverty in East Asia and the Pacific region alone could increase by 11 million people if conditions worsened.
Oxfam has proposed a six point action plan that would deliver cash grants and bailouts to people and businesses in need.
The charity also called for debt cancellation, more International Monetary Fund support, and increased aid.
Taxing wealth, extraordinary profits, and speculative financial products would help raise the funds needed, Oxfam added.
Calls for debt relief have increased in recent weeks as the fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic has roiled developing nations around the world.