London Coronavirus Digest 27 March: Sadiq Khan warns capital to expect ‘large number’ of deaths

London Coronavirus Digest 27 March: Sadiq Khan warns capital to expect ‘large number’ of deaths

The rather staggering news that the Prime Minister, the health secretary and possibly the chief medical officer have all come down with coronavirus today has, unsurprisingly, dominated national coverage of the pandemic. Meanwhile, London continues to be the part of the UK hit hardest so far, and its public bodies are gearing up to face the challenges of the coming weeks.

  • Sadiq Khan has told BBC Radio London the capital should expect a “large number” of deaths in the weeks ahead. Further temporary mortuaries will be set up across the capital in addition to one already prepared in Westminster.
  • During today’s Downing Street news briefing, led by Michael Gove, NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens said that “as of yesterday, the most recent figures, we had just under 3,000 empty and available hospital beds across London” with a further 500 coming in to the NHS Nightingale field hospital being set up the the ExCel centre next week. He confirmed that there is “the physical capacity to potentially take that up to 4,000 if it were required”.
  • Answering a question about cancer patients being concerned that essential and urgent treatments might be postponed because of the pressure dealing with the virus has been putting the health service, Sir Simon explained that in London the Royal Marsden in Chelsea is “coordinating cancer care right across the capital, so even if patients aren’t being looked after at their local hospital they will be getting the care they need”. He explained that careful clinical judgments are needed due to cancer patients often becoming more susceptible to viruses as a result of their treatment. A national “landmark deal with all of the independent hospitals” means space has been created for cancer patients to be treated away from those busy with coronavirus cases, Sir Simon said.
  • Cycling will be banned in Richmond Park from tomorrow. A Royal Parks spokesman said: “It is necessary to suspend all cycling in Richmond Park to protect public safety and ultimately help keep this vital green space open for everyone.” Unfortunately, people on bicycles have been failing to observe social distancing requirements and police and stewards will be posted the park’s gates to enforce the new sanction, though NHS workers will be exempt. The news was reported on Twitter by the Evening Standard’s Ross Lydall. An instructive thread ensued.
  • The legendary Abbey Road zebra crossing has been repainted thanks to the unusual lack of traffic on that street made famous by a Beatles album cover.
  • Frank Turner’s livestreamed stay-at-home benefit gig for the Nambucca music venue on Holloway Road last night had raised over £8,250 by this lunchtime, its manager Giles Horne says. Good work Frank.
  • There have now been 246 declared coronavirus-related deaths in the capital. Again, Ross Lydall has the details.

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