London is at a “critical time” in fighting Covid-19, a world health chief warned as figures showed the number of new cases edging up in two-thirds of boroughs.
Dr David Nabarro, the World Health Organisation’s coronavirus envoy for Europe, stressed that the risk of a surge in COVID infections in the capital was now “extremely serious”.
Speaking to the Evening Standard, he appealed to millions of Londoners not to “bend the rules” on social distancing and good hygiene with another heatwave on the way. He also emphasised that the “toughest time” to control the virus is when numbers are low because people often struggle to sustain discipline in fighting it.
Dr Nabarro announced the warnings as figures confirmed the number of confirmed new cases and infection rate going up slightly in 22 boroughs.
Hackney and City of London saw 59 new cases in the seven days to July 30, a rate of 20.5 per 100,000, compared with 43 the previous week and a rate of 14.9. Barking and Dagenham saw its number of new cases nearly treble from 11 to 29, with the rate up from 5.2 to 13.7.
Barnet, Brent, Kensington and Chelsea, as well as Hammersmith and Fulham, all saw their rates go up to at least seven, with the number of new cases in the week to July 30 being between 30 (Barnet) and 11 (K&C), according to the analysis by Press Association of Public Health England figures.
Other boroughs with new cases nudging up, often from a low base, include Harrow, Lambeth, Westminster where the number of new cases doubled from eight to 17, Redbridge, Hounslow, Lewisham, Newham, Wandsworth, Greenwich, Enfield, Richmond, Hillingdon, Camden, Croydon, Waltham Forest and Bromley.
Dr Nabarro said: “It is a critical time now for us to be treating this virus with the utmost respect.
“I’m not somebody who wants us to continue with lockdown; I want us not to have to keep working from home, we need to be able as a society to be ready to go to work, and also frankly to socialise.
“So the whole approach I’m taking is one of saying ‘let’s come back to normal working life but remember that it’s not normal as we knew it eight months ago, this is a new reality of living with the constant threat of this virus… it’s establishing a new way of behaviour that is compatible with holding the virus at bay’.”