Mapped: The neighbourhoods with the highest and lowest number of coronavirus deaths
PUBLISHED: 07:00 23 June 2020 | UPDATED: 09:06 24 June 2020
Deprived areas, neighbourhoods with older populations, and ethnically diverse communities are among those hit hardest in Suffolk by the coronavirus, it has emerged.
New data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reveals huge disparities in the number of Covid-19 related deaths across Suffolk since March 1.
The figures have been broken down into neighbourhoods of around 7,000 people, called MSOAs.
Westgate in Ipswich is the worst affected area in Suffolk, with 15 out of 27 deaths (56%) attributed to the coronavirus.
With a more ethnically diverse population than most, the area – incorporating places such as Handford Road, Maple Park and the lower part of Norwich Road – was also ranked among the region’s most deprived last year.
Ipswich’s Castle Hill and Priory Heath also had a high percentage of people dying from Covid-19, recording 14 coronavirus deaths out of 30, and 14 out of 34, respectively.
Meanwhile in Holywells, which incorporates Ipswich Waterfront, a quarter of all deaths – four out of 16 – were attributed to coronavirus. Bury St Edmunds Central had the same proportion, with nine out of 36 deaths linked to Covid-19.
Some Suffolk neighbourhoods are yet to record a single coronavirus death – with Lakenheath, Beck Row and Eriswell, Yoxford and Walberswick all logging zero Covid-19 fatalities.
Carole Jones, Labour ward councillor for Westgate, said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted inequalities across Britain. If you take a neighbourhood like Westgate which already has high levels of poverty and overcrowding, then that is the kind of area where residents are more likely to suffer, to get ill, and unfortunately to die from this virus.
“What we know already about some of our BAME population, is that they are potentially more vulnerable to this virus, as we have heard nationally.
“In Westgate, we have a relatively young population, Ipswich overall has the youngest population, so there must be other factors playing a part, such as poverty, and inequality.”
Eleven out of 31 deaths (more than a third) in the Shotley Peninsula neighbourhood – which includes Freston, Tattingstone, Holbrook, and Shotley itself – were attributed to coronavirus.
This was also the case in an area incorporating Leavenheath, Nayland and Boxford, with 12 out of 37 deaths.
Clare Morgan, vice-chairman of Leavenheath Parish Council, said: “Certainly, the demographic in this area is a more elderly population.
“The younger population do commute, so it could well be that they have been working in London.
“I know in other villages there are care homes, which may have had some problems.”
There has been little research so far into why some areas are much more affected than others.
But nationally, the figures show poorer areas suffer more than wealthier ones.
Sarah Caul, from the ONS, said: “General mortality rates are normally higher in more deprived areas, but Covid-19 appears to be increasing this effect.”
Separate ONS data confirms previous findings that the mortality rate for deaths involving Covid-19 among some ethnic groups is higher than the rate for people of a white ethnic background.
Stuart Keeble, director of Public Health Suffolk, said his team aims to build on current efforts to control the virus through new government-funded Local Outbreak Control Plans.
Suffolk County Council has been given a slice of the £300m national fund, which will go towards the development of a tailored plan in case of a local outbreak.
“We know from national data that there is a higher risk of death from Covid-19 in older age groups, in certain ethnic groups, urban areas and areas of deprivation. We are seeing a similar picture here in Suffolk,” he said.
“Although local numbers are small and must be interpreted with caution, our initial analysis shows Covid-19 deaths are mainly located in our more densely populated towns where we know that areas of deprivation and more diverse populations exist.
“These densely populated towns have a higher opportunity for the virus to spread, which is why it’s important for everyone to stick with it and continue following social distancing and hygiene guidance.”
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