Editorial: We mustn’t forget human tragedy behind coronavirus death stats

(06 May, 2020)

Our view: We should never forget that behind the numbers are real people's tragedies

35313Picture of the coronavirus

Behind every coronavirus death statistic is a heart-breaking tragedy. A life lost; a family torn apart.

They cannot tell the full picture of the devastation being wreaked in our communities here in Southwark. Nor can they tell us of the lives of those who have sadly passed away.

It is for this reason we have appealed to our readers to help us pay our respects to those who have died in Southwark by contacting us.

While there is much the data we report this week from the ONS cannot tell us, it does throw into sharp focus that some areas are facing the brunt of this evil disease more than most.

And it is important to mark that – for when recovery comes, if that is the right word, it will be these places in our borough which need to be first in line for whatever support comes from the authorities.

This is especially true of Peckham. The data shows that Peckham has been the hardest hit by coronavirus deaths in Southwark, fifteen of which are recorded in the area surrounding Queen’s Road.

Parts of Surrey Quays and Rotherhithe, are also particularly hard hit, as is London Bridge and West Bermondsey.

Coronavirus deaths, by areas in Southwark

These are not just numbers. Among those to have lost their lives to Covid-19 in Southwark is Kayla Williams, a mother-of-three from Peckham.

Heartbreakingly, her husband this week tells this paper of his anguish – made all the worse by the fact he may be unable to afford to bury his wife.

Why should these areas be bearing the brunt of the borough’s coronavirus fatalities? Analysts believe black and minority ethnic communities (BAME) are heavily affected.

Deprivation, too, closely correlates with those areas seeing the highest number of people pass away. The most deprived areas are seeing more than double the deaths of the most well-to-do areas.

Multigenerational living may also have an impact, believe town hall leaders, as the elderly who are at more serious risk come into closer contact with their younger relatives, who may be vectors of the virus.

Separately, data shows where those who have lost their lives did so. The majority passed away in hospital.

But at least 31 residents have passed away in a care home. We have, as a paper, raised the alarm of those in homes for many weeks.

This is yet another tragic reminder why social care cannot be ignored by the government, as it has been for too long.

“The lack of PPE in care homes has been nothing short of a national scandal,” said Cllr Jasmine Ali as the News went to press this week. She is completely correct.

This data should serve to highlight three things. First, as we have said previously, that the ‘Cinderella profession’ of carers should be given the respect it deserves.

Second, that while we are all in this pandemic together, the truth is that some areas are more in it than others.

And third, that behind every number is a real human tragedy – one we must not be allowed to forget.

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