The number of people to be diagnosed with COVID-19 in Southwark has now exceeded a thousand, as fears the UK will be one of the worst affected countries in Europe appear to be realised.
As of 4pm on Monday, April 20, there were a total of 124,743 recorded COVID-19 cases in the UK, with 4,676 new diagnoses reported within the previous 24-hours.
Regionally, London was still the most affected with more than 21,000 infected in total. Of those, 1,089 were diagnosed in Southwark. The only London boroughs to record higher figures were Croydon (1,187) and Brent (1,206).
Although the daily national death toll from the disease is showing signs of slowing down, and hospital admissions are believed to be levelling off – ‘flattening the curve’ – there is still no clear indication of how many Southwark residents have died from the disease.
The government publishes daily hospital deaths data but with King’s and Guy’s serving a large catchment it is unknown how many of those patients would have called Southwark home.
Figures on care home and other deaths within the community are published each week but these figures, for England and Wales, do not give a local authority breakdown.
So what do we know? The hospital death toll, published daily, had reached 16,509 on Monday but, the same day, the number to die within a 24-period dropped to its lowest level since April 6: 449.
We may be past the peak in London, but as yet are unsure just how many deaths are due to the disease.
It is known that King’s College NHS Foundation Trust recorded its first death on March 7. Now a total of 322 have died in its wards from COVID-19. Deaths have been listed every single day since March 16.
One day alone – March 30 – recorded 23 deaths. There are now signs the number is easing off.
As we have previously reported, the lag in receiving figures for outside-hospital deaths can mean daily figures hugely underreport COVID-19 mortality – potentially by as much as 40 per cent.
Data from the Office for National Statistics, published weekly, is based on registered deaths and what has been listed on the certificate.
The latest available figures show that in one week, up to April 3, nearly half of all deaths in London (46.6 per cent) were attributed to COVID-19.
Up to April 10, nine-hundred-and-seventy-five people are listed as dying in England’s care homes with COVID-19 believed to be a cause or contributing factor – a number not included in the government’s daily briefings.
The National Care Forum, an industry body representing residential homes, says by its own estimates 4,000 of its residents could have died after contracting the disease.
The numbers will do nothing to dispel fears the UK could be on course for the worst outbreak in Europe.
But only in the coming weeks and months, and when full borough-by-borough breakdowns are made available, will we know for sure.