How the plague was studied by experts in Covid comparison
Julia Gregory Local Democracy Reporter
- Credit: LDRS
They are the documents no one wanted to write. And they hope no one else will have an urgent need to read them.
Paperwork about the way City and Hackney health chiefs planned and ran their response to the coronavirus pandemic will be kept at Hackney Archives. The documents will be there, should future public health officials need to learn lessons from the two-year crisis, which has claimed the lives of 641 people to date in the City of London and Hackney.
According to government data, 90,181 people in the two areas have tested positive for Covid-19 since the pandemic began– though there is less available data at times when Covid testing was not available. The number of recorded cases has dropped since the removal of free tests for most people since April 1.
Chris Lovitt, the deputy director of public health for the two councils said: “How we archive the Covid response is important to future generations. It has been useful to look at how the response to plague was handled by London. It did actually provide some useful insight.”
London suffered a catastrophic “Great Plague” in 1665-66, which claimed the lives of a recorded 68,595 Londoners, although estimates put it as high as 100,000.
This compares with 23,375 deaths from Covid in London recorded by 29 April.
The archive will include material from the outbreak control board and the response from both local authorities.
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In what is hoped to be one of the last outbreak control board meetings (on Thursday, May 12), he suggested that NHS colleagues might consider where their Covid archive should be kept, possibly at the Homerton Hospital in Hackney.
It is thought the outbreak control meetings, which bring together health experts, data analysts, councillors, and community groups which have helped with the response, can be scaled back to quarterly and eventually ended.
Mr Lovitt said there will also be a review this summer of how the pandemic was tackled in the area.
Work is underway to plan how to deliver any new Covid boosters which might be offered this winter – although it is not yet known what age groups might be offered them. It will include working with community champions and groups, and councillors.
People are still dying from Covid in the area, although the number of patients at the Homerton dropped 24 per cent from 21 to 16 between 26 April and 3 May – the lowest number of Covid patients in 2022.