COVID documents saved to teach future medics

covid documents

COVID-19 documents are being saved and filed to help teach future medics on how to avoid a similar pandemic.

They are the documents no one wanted to write. And they hope no one else will have an urgent need to read them.

Paperwork about the way City and Hackney health chiefs planned and ran their response to the coronavirus pandemic will be kept at Hackney Archives.

The documents will be there, should future public health officials need to learn lessons from the two-year crisis, which has claimed the lives of 641 people to date in the City of London and Hackney.

According to government data, 90,181 people in the two areas have tested positive for COVID-19 since the pandemic began – though there is less available data at times when COVID testing was not available. The number of recorded cases has dropped since the removal of free tests for most people since April 1.

Chris Lovitt, the Deputy Director of Public Health for the two councils, said: “How we archive the COVID response is important to future generations. It has been useful to actually look at how the response to plague was handled by London. It did actually provide some useful insight.”

London suffered a catastrophic “Great Plague” in 1665-66, which claimed the lives of a recorded 68,595 Londoners, although estimates put it as high as 100,000.

This compares with 23,375 deaths from COVID in London recorded by April 29.

People fled the City and Parliament, whilst the Royal Court moved out of London and court cases were heard in Oxford.

It is thought the Great Plague started in the parish of St Giles in the Fields in Drury Lane, which is now half in Camden and half in Westminster.

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The archive will include material from the outbreak control board and the response from both local authorities.

In what is hoped to be one of the last outbreak control board meetings (on Thursday May 12), he suggested that NHS colleagues might consider where their COVID archive should be kept, possibly at the Homerton Hospital in Hackney.

It is thought the outbreak control meetings, which bring together health experts, data analysts, councillors, and community groups which have helped with the response, can be scaled back to quarterly and eventually ended.

Mr Lovitt said there will also be a review this summer of how the pandemic was tackled in the area.

Work is underway to plan how to deliver any new COVID boosters which might be offered this winter – although it is not yet known what age groups might be offered them. It will include working with community champions and groups, and councillors.

Vaccination rates in Hackney currently stand at 65 percent: 194,240 people had one vaccine – with 300 in the week to May 9. Sixty percent (178,643 people) have their second dose, with 188 of these given out in the week ending May 9.

The booster or fourth dose has been given to 41 percent of residents (122,585 people) – with 435 jabs in the last week: this is 73 percent of those eligible.

People are still dying from COVID in the area, although the number of patients at the Homerton dropped 24 percent from 21 to 16 between April 26 and May 3 – the lowest number of COVID patients in 2022.

No COVID patient at the Hackney hospital currently needs ventilation.

Health bosses warned that people still need to take precautions by staying home if they are unwell, washing their hands regularly, ventilating rooms, getting vaccinated and using face masks.

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