Coronavirus: Stamford Hill faces local lockdown if cases continue to ‘rapidly rise’

Sandra Husbands. Picture: Hackney Council

Sandra Husbands. Picture: Hackney Council - Credit: Hackney Council

Stamford Hill is facing a local lockdown if coronavirus cases continue to “rapidly rise” there.

Phil Glanville. Picture: Hackney Council

Phil Glanville. Picture: Hackney Council - Credit: Hackney Council

Latest figures show new infection rates are increasing across Hackney, with 21 positive cases per 100,000 residents.

Mayor of Hackney Philip Glanville and director of public health Sandra Husbands have written to residents warning them of the “real and imminent” risks of more hospital admissions and potential deaths from the illness.

If rates - which are among the highest in London - do not reduce, the area could face government restrictions similar to those seen in some towns and cities in the north of England.

Visiting friends and family could be banned, and faith settings and some businesses could face temporary closure.

This would be more restrictive than new government rules which ban gatherings of more than six people from Monday, September 14.

In the fortnight up to September 1, there were 111 new cases diagnosed in Hackney.

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About a third of these were attributed to household clusters, many of which were in the N16 postcode area in Stamford Hill West ward - which has seen 79 per 100,000 residents affected.

Meanwhile, neighbouring Springfield ward has registered 38 cases per 100,000.

However, Stamford Hill West has a population of about 10,000 compared to about 246,000 in the whole of Hackney, according to the 2011 Census - and therefore cases there would have a small impact on the figures in Hackney as a whole.

“We are extremely concerned about the rising infection rates in Hackney,” said Dr Husbands.

“Whilst there are a few infection clusters in other parts of the borough, the majority of the confirmed cases we are seeing are coming from the N16 area of Hackney.

“The data that we have strongly suggests that the original source of this is overseas visitors from countries now on the quarantine list. Those countries include the USA, Israel, and Belgium.”

She spoke to the Orthodox Jewish community in Stamford Hill: “We are aware that the Jewish holiday season is imminent, a time of year that may see hundreds of families visiting each other, including visiting other countries or welcoming visitors from abroad.

“For some it is an opportunity to reconnect with culture and tradition.

“However, we are urging Stamford Hill residents to reconsider those travel plans, and to avoid close contact with other households, as it is through mixing in each others’ homes that the virus has the best chance of spreading.

“If we do not quickly reverse the infection data trend in Stamford Hill, it seems very likely that there will be local restrictions imposed that could have a profound effect on the community and its ability to celebrate the upcoming religious festivals and possibly beyond.”

The council has already gone beyond current national guidance and asked people in Stamford Hill to avoid mixing with other households, besides the usual measures of hand and respiratory hygiene and physical distancing.

“Some people may think that the current outbreak isn’t serious, because it primarily affects young, healthy people. But this is just the tip of the iceberg,” said Dr Husbands.

“If we allow this to continue unchecked, we are very likely to end up in the same situation as we’ve seen internationally, or elsewhere in England, with more hospital admissions and even deaths, as a result.

“We are working closely with community partners and religious leaders, and we know that huge efforts are being made from within the community, but it is important that everybody - individuals, schools, businesses, synagogues - act fast to stop the spread of infection and avoid local restrictions being imposed.

“We are writing to every household in the area to outline the very real and imminent risks.”

Mayor of Hackney Phil Glanville added: “There has been an increase in younger adults catching and spreading the virus across the country, and many of the new infections in Hackney appear to be a result of people returning from holidays abroad.

“We want to remind people that it’s absolutely vital that they strictly self-isolate for 14 days if returning - or visiting - from a restricted country.”