Yesterday came the terrible news that over 100,000 people in the United Kingdom have been killed by Covid-19, defined as having died within 28 days of testing positive for the coronavirus. The true figure by that measure is probably higher, as there was less testing taking place during the first wave of the pandemic during the spring. And by a different definition of a Covid death – when the virus is mentioned on the deceased person’s death certificate submitted to their local authority – the UK total is around 108,000.
There is another way of quantifying the impact of the virus, which is arrived at by compiling the number of what are called “excess deaths” over a given period. The excess death figure is defined as the number of people dying of all causes that is higher than anticipated according to the average figure for the previous five years. It can be derived from data gathered by the Office for National Statistics from deaths registered by local authorities in England and Wales and for those in Scotland by National Records of Scotland.
Sky News data journalists Isla Glaister and Carmen Aguilar Garcia have done that using the death certificate figures from mid-March 2020 until 15 January this year, the most up-to-date currently published (figures for Northern Ireland weren’t available).
I’ve pulled out from the Sky site the statistics for London’s 32 boroughs, showing the excess deaths as a percentage increase on what would normally be expected, and also as an absolute number. Across Britain, the excess death rate is presently 19.6% higher than normal. All but six of London’s boroughs have seen worse than that, some of them massively so.
The highest excess death percentage in the whole of Britain for the period in question as been in Newham, where the figure is a shattering 54% above the five-year average, representing 604 more people dying in the borough than would normally be expected.
The second highest is in Redbridge, with an excess death rate of 46% (667 people).
The equal third highest are in Haringey, with an excess death rate of 41% (422 people) and Brent, also 41% (593 people).
The next six places in this grim national league table are also filled by London boroughs, in the following order:
Hackney – 40% (374 people).
Enfield – 40% (681 people).
Harrow – 38% (486 people).
Ealing – 38% (626 people).
Waltham Forest – 37% (442 people).
Havering – 36% (708 people).
London boroughs therefore have seen the ten highest local authority excess death rates in the whole of Britain. The next three highest rates have been in the local authority areas of Oadby & Wigston (in Leicestershire), Broxbourne (in Hertfordshire) and Mole Valley (Surrey). Then, it’s back to London.
Hammersmith & Fulham, with an excess death rate of 35% (272 people more people than normal).
Tower Hamlets – 35% (316 people).
Barnet – 35% (707 people, the largest absolute number in London).
So that’s 13 London boroughs out of the top 16 local authority areas in England, Scotland and Wales. After Barnet come Barnsley and Woking. Then, in 19th place, it’s Merton, with an excess death rate of 34%, representing 354 more people dying than the five-year average. Barking & Dagenham is 24th on the percentage list at 32% (339 people), and only after that do the capital’s boroughs cease to dominate the national ranking. The percentages in the other 17 are as follows:
Lambeth – 31% (375 people).
Westminster – 30% (283 people).
Hounslow – 29% (369 people).
Croydon – 29% (610 people).
Lewisham – 27% (354 people).
Hillingdon – 27% (446 people).
Sutton – 26% (320 people).
Southwark – 25% (285 people).
Greenwich – 25% (329 people).
Wandsworth – 24% (301 people).
Islington – 23% (212 people).
Kingston – 19% (172 people).
Bexley – 19% (319 people).
Kensington & Chelsea – 16% (108 people).
Camden – 16% (152 people).
Bromley – 15% (335 people).
Richmond – 14% (144 people).
With only four boroughs clearly below that national excess death figure of 19.6%, it is brutally clear how hard Greater London has been hit by Covid-19.
Photograph taken at Springfield Park by Omar Jan.
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