Covid-19: Lewisham is Omicron hotspot but schools across ELL boroughs stay open

Pic. Yui Mok

By Isabella Nova, Joseph Arthur, Amarachi Ngwakwe, Cerys Holliday, Sophie Donne and Charlotte Doyle.

As the holiday period draws closer, the government are calling on the public to be aware of the rising cases of Covid-19 and the threat of the Omicron variant. They have put in place new restrictions including wearing masks and Boris Johnson has pledged to offer all adults the chance to get their booster jabs before the end of the year.

Across the Eastlondonlines boroughs, the situation is varied. Lewisham has many more Omicron cases than the other boroughs, whilst Tower Hamlets continues to have a lower vaccination rate than the rest of the UK.

Currently, no schools across the ELL boroughs are closed. Health Secretary Sajid Javid said he does not want to see teaching move online as it did last term but said he would not rule out the option if infection rates continue to rise.

Here are the updates from each of the East London boroughs: on cases, vaccines, deaths and schools.

A rise in Covid cases has hit Croydon and the Omicron variant has been detected within the borough.

As of Wednesday last week, there were ten reported Omicron cases in Croydon, according to the UKHSA.

In addition to the Omicron variant, total positive cases within the borough have increased by 46.6 per cent over the past week, as of Monday according to government data.

Deaths in Croydon have also increased this past week, six deaths were reported after only three the week before, up 100 per cent in total.

Vaccination clinics are expecting an uptake in the amount of booster doses to be administered following government advice over the weekend.

Over 1,480 booster shots were administered in Croydon on Sunday, bringing the borough’s booster total to 25.6 per cent of residents.

Currently, 67.7 per cent of people over the age of 18 have had one dose of the vaccine and 61.3 per cent have had two doses, according to government data.

Centrale Shopping Centre is currently open for vaccinations by appointment only. Walk-in clinics open across the borough include Mayday Community Pharmacy, Aumex Pharmacy, Blackwells Chemist and Impact House. Bids Chemist will be closed for the next seven days and therefore will not be offering vaccinations.

No schools in the Croydon borough are currently closed, despite some London schools reportedly closing early for Christmas in response to the governments recently implemented Covid Plan B precautions.

Covid-19 cases have risen in Lewisham, with an increase of 63 percent of positive test results over the last week.

According to government data, 532 people in Lewisham had a confirmed positive test result as of today.

Between December 7 and December 13, 2,427 people had a confirmed positive test result. There were also 3 deaths between these dates, showing a decrease of 25 per cent compared to the previous week.

As of December 13, there are 53 confirmed Omicron cases within the borough, making Lewisham an Omicron hotspot, the UK Health Security Agency has revealed.

Residents have reported that there are large queues and waiting times at vaccination centres for the booster jab, following Boris Johnson’s recent announcement to boost all eligible adults by the end of January.

One resident tweeted yesterday: “Just to warn people, there’s at least a 2-hour queue for walk-ins at the vaccination centre at Lewisham Hospital this morning. It’s probably more like 3 hours at the moment. Staff doing a great job but it’s a long wait if you’ve not got a booked appointment and it’s pretty cold.”

Government data from Monday evening revealed that 62.3 per cent of Lewisham resident over 12 have had their first dose of the vaccine, and 56.1 per cent have had their second. 17.1 per cent have also received their booster shot.

A range of walk-in clinics are open in Lewisham administering the first and second vaccination doses as well as the booster jab. This includes: The Waldron Medical Centre, New Cross Pharmacy, Vantage Pharmacy, Brook Pharmacy and Lewisham Pharmacy. You can find more information and updates here.

If you wish to book a vaccination appointment instead, you can visit the NHS website here.

Bookings via the NHS website will be opened to 18-30 year-olds from Wednesday December 15.

Currently, no schools in Lewisham have faced closures as a result of the increase in Covid-19 cases and Plan B precautions.

Lewisham Hospital queue. Pic: Tom Davidson

Confirmed Covid-19 cases in Tower Hamlets have increased, according to the UK Health Security Agency. Data released by the UKHSA on December 10, revealed that Tower Hamlets had 7 confirmed cases of the Omicron variant, with an additional 27 suspected cases.

Further government data released on December 14 revealed that between December 8 and December 14, a total of 2,487 people had tested positive – a 93.2 per cent increase compared to the week before.

The borough also has the lowest booster uptake rates of any local authority in the UK, with just 18 per cent of people aged 18-plus fully vaccinated.

Following Boris Johnson’s public address to the nation on December 12 about vaccination uptake, several vaccination centres are available for bookings or walk-ins, as well as boosters for over 18s. These can be found at pharmacies, local GPs, or walk-in centres, with the council providing an interactive map of vaccination sites, along with a list of places with appointments.

The clinics include: Queen Mary’s University, E1 4NS, Boots Pharmacy, Canary Wharf, E14 5NY, New City College, E14 0AF, and East London Mosque, E1 1JQ.

Schools across the borough have remained open, with the majority – as of now – ending their term for Christmas on December 21.

In the last week, beginning December 7, 1,378 positive test results were reported, a 65.6 per cent increase compared to the week before. During the same week, 2 deaths were reported within 28 days of a positive result. 

Since November 22, 8 of these cases were confirmed to be the Omicron variant.

On Monday in Hackney, 447 new people reported a confirmed positive test result for Covid-19. 

62 per cent of all Hackney over the age of 12 have had their first dose of the vaccine, 56 per cent have had their second dose and 17 per cent have had their booster dose as of December 11.

There are currently 13 vaccination centres in Hackney and 2 pop-up vaccination events at Spring Hill Practice, 57 Stamford Hill, and outside Vi Forrestor Community Hall, Gilpin Road. 

Queues are likely to be long at testing sites due to the difficulty in receiving lateral flow tests from the government’s website or local pharmacies.  

According to Hackney council, there have not been any school closures in the borough as yet. However, students and teachers will still be required to complete 2 lateral flow tests per week and wear a mask. All parents are encouraged to contact individual schools if they are concerned.

Silverfields Pharmacy, Homerton High Street. Pic: Gemma Clarke

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