No Bexley resident has died due to coronavirus so far during the UK’s second wave, but local councillors are pushing for more detailed information regarding the impact of the virus on the borough’s health services.

Members of Bexley Council’s outbreak board met for their digital meeting on Tuesday, just two days before a month-long national lockdown is set to be imposed across the UK.

It was less than a fortnight ago that members of the same board had been told London was “not close to getting to Tier 3 level yet”.

However, this meeting heard the rapid escalation had seen the overall rate of coronavirus jump to 150 cases per 100,000 people in London.

Dr Anjan Ghosh, Bexley’s director of public health, told members that although rates of diagnosis in people aged over 65 were rising, no deaths of local residents had been recorded in the second wave yet.

However, he reiterated a prediction he made last month, saying that “mid-November onwards” would see a significant increase in people requiring medical attention, more than it already has.

It came as councillors pressed for more specific information on what rocketing rates of infection across the city meant for their area.

Council leader Teresa O’Neill said there wasn’t enough detail on whether people being admitted to hospital were being admitted “primarily” due to Covid-19, or whether it was other causes.

She asked whether the authority should not be “looking to push back to Public Health England (PHE)” on those details.

“My interpretation of a Covid number in hospital is someone who has got it into an extreme position,” she said.

In response, Dr Ghosh said information on Covid hospitalisations came directly from Lewisham and Greenwich Trust – where most Bexley patients go – who were “so busy” they couldn’t provide more details.

“(The Trust are) very good with giving us the data but they give us the minimal amount of data,” he said, adding they were “not able to get more granular…because they’re so busy they can’t actually do that.”

The council leader said extra details would “obviously (make) a big difference”.

Her sentiments were backed by cabinet member for adults’ services Brad Smith, who asked what the normal number of hospital admissions and deaths was for this time of year.

However, Dr Ghosh said trusts weren’t providing that figure due to being overwhelmed.

Cllr Smith said more information was needed to avoid getting “lost in the panic of infection rates” and to see whether infections were “spreading in an age group that can tolerate it”.

“It’s a very different scenario with a high infection rate with a high death rate, compared to a high infection rate with a minimal death rate,” he said. 

Dr Ghosh warned that, with coronavirus, it was important to look beyond deaths.

“It has a high morbidity…it’s about people living with Covid and the consequences of Covid,” he said.

“Long Covid..particularly effects younger people actually where people suffer from very debilitating symptoms.”

The authority also had a communication update – hinting that the council could use smartphone apps such as Tiktok and Instagram to reach a younger audience with the national message around “hands, face, space” for when bars open up again post-lockdown.