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Four years on: How the Covid-19 virus impacted Barnet

Data Reporter Sonja Tutty looks at the impact of the pandemic on Barnet residents

A woman looking at the National Covid Memorial Wall
“Over 230,600 people have now died from Covid-19 in the UK” – (Credit – Radar)

A day of reflection will take place on Sunday to remember all those who died during the pandemic, as March marks four years since the first Covid-19 death and lockdown.

It comes as charities representing those who have lost loved ones to the virus and those still struggling with long Covid have called on the Government for more support.

The first reported death due to Covid-19 in the UK was reported on March 5, 2020. Since then, 230,626 deaths have been recorded up to December 2023, the final data update of the government’s coronavirus dashboard.

In Barnet, 1,223 people died due to the virus.

It meant the area had a coronavirus death rate of 307 per 100,000 people – compared to England’s overall death rate of 342 per 100,000 people.

Rivka Gottlieb, spokesperson for Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice UK, said: “Over 230,600 people have now died from Covid-19 in the UK, often in awful circumstances and with their loved ones unable to be at their side as they passed away.

“This appalling number of deaths was not inevitable; adequate PPE and testing, a swifter lockdown and properly funded services would have saved thousands of lives.”

She added: “The awful truth is very little has changed since the pandemic first hit the UK, and if a new disease struck tomorrow we would be just as poorly prepared and likely repeat many of the same mistakes.”

Ahead of the next election, she said all political parties must adopt the Covid Inquiry’s recommendations so, the “horrors of the pandemic” are not repeated.

The UK Covid-19 Inquiry is now on its sixth module, investigating the impact of the pandemic on the publicly and privately funded adult social care sector.

The current module will also address the steps taken in adult care and residential homes to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

Looking back at Covid-19 infection, daily coronavirus cases peaked across the UK on January 4, 2022, when over 275,600 cases were recorded.

In Barnet, they peaked when 26,403 cases were recorded throughout January 2022.

This is compared to just 167 cases in November 2023 – the final full month with reporting on positive Covid-19 tests.

But despite the drop in positive tests, people are still dealing with the impact of infection. The most recent NHS GP Survey found 5% of patients across England said they were experiencing long Covid in 2023.

In the NHS North Central London integrated care system, which covers Barnet, 4.8% of patients said they were still experiencing Covid-19 symptoms 12 weeks after infection.

The Long Covid SOS charity said further funding towards long Covid research and services is needed, as those living with the condition feel “the world has moved on and left them behind”.

Ondine Sherwood, co-founder of the charity, added the rollback in mitigation against infection makes it difficult for anyone with the condition to be part of the “living with Covid” society, as the risk of reinfection can further exacerbate symptoms.

She said: “We do not have a ‘cure’ on the horizon, and this is unlikely because long Covid presents in so many different ways.

“We do have NHS England Long Covid clinics, but they vary enormously – many are not multidisciplinary and some have no doctors at all.”

This year, the responsibility of long Covid services is shifting from a central NHS England team to individual integrated care boards. Ms Sherwood said there are concerns the quality and consistency of these services may be impacted.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “Our sympathies are with anyone who lost loved ones to Covid-19.”

They added: “Throughout the pandemic, the government acted to save lives and livelihoods, prevent the NHS being overwhelmed, and deliver a world-leading vaccine rollout which protected millions.

“We have always said there are lessons to be learnt from the pandemic and are committed to learning from the Covid-19 Inquiry’s findings, which will play a key role in informing the government’s planning and preparations for the future.”

They said £314 million has been invested on long Covid specialist services throughout England.


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