The Covid-19 death toll has reached double figures in Thornton Heath’s three wards as police reported a widespread disregard for the lockdown.
Over 264 patients had died at Croydon University Hospital since March 19, as it emerged a further 127 had died in care homes in the borough taking the total to almost 400.
Yesterday, (Sat) Police had to break up street parties and multiple gatherings with officers clearing people playing football and basketball in Thornton Heath Rec. There was also little social distancing observed when Tesco was evacuated after a fire alarm went off and shoppers gathered outside.
An interactive map produced by the Office of National Statistics, which revealed coronavirus deaths by postcode shows that there have been 54 deaths in wards covering the Thornton Heath postcode representing the largest cluster in the borough.
The government has launched a review, led by the NHS and Public Health England in to emerging data suggesting that BAME residents are disproportionately affected by Covid-19.
The Director for Public Health in Croydon Rachel Flowers has already engaged with national colleagues to ensure Croydon is involved in the review.
Central Croydon MP Sarah Jones in Parliament, called on the government to tackle the longer term underlying health issues that had got us to this place of ‘gross inequality.’
She said: “It would appear that the high levels of deaths and hospitalisation in Croydon are down to the underlying health needs of our population. We have a greater proportion of people with some of those illnesses that we’ve all been talking about whether that’s, diabetes, hypertension or obesity.
“We also have people who are living in bad housing, that’s overcrowded and who are living in poverty. These things have meant that this pandemic has affected those who are poorer and from BAME backgrounds more than other people and we need to get to the bottom of why that has happened so that we can put it right and make sure those levels of inequality, are not seen again.”
The ONS found that between March 1 and April 17, the most deprived regions suffered 55 deaths per 100,000 people, compared to 25 fatalities in the wealthiest areas with one in four of all coronavirus victims living in the capital.
In the wards of Thornton Heath and Bensham Manor there were 36 Covid deaths during this time and 18 in West Thornton. This was as of April 17 with the death toll expected to rise further.
The Chronicle reported last month that it was feared that north of the borough would be worst affected by the virus as cramped and overcrowded housing accommodation made it difficult for families to self isolate and distance.
In a letter to MP Steve Reed, Thornton Heath police have said a lot of residents don’t believe Covid-19 exists. Officers have issued multiple fines over the last few weeks and issued warnings to shopkeepers flouting government guidelines.
In a recent Twitter post Thornton Heath MPS, wrote: “More fines issued by the teams for breaching Covid regulations. Lots of advice given. Unfortunately still a lot of people who think that Covid-19 does not exist. Very frustrating.”
The police have also expressed concerns about the message not getting through to residents.
A free for all as customers (pictured) queued outside Heath Supermarket on the High Street on Easter Thursday , which was reported to the council’s licensing team by police officers who filmed the violations on their body worn cameras.
Lockdown parties and social gatherings have also been reported to the council.
In a letter to MP Steve Reed, in response to a residents complaint about street drinkers ignoring the lockdown, Thornton Heath’s new sergeant Andy Smith said: “The issue with Thornton Heath at the moment is there seems to be a pretty widespread disregard for the directions given by the government. We have spoken to a number of shops about social distancing and that the onus sits with them to manage the crowds that are drawn to their shops.”
In another post Sgt Smith pictured in Grangewood Park says: “Took a bike ride out on the ward today, still lots of people out and about so lots of advice given. Also a house party dispersed.”
Throughout the lockdown street drinkers have continued to gather and drink outside the Clocktower, Tesco and on Ambassador House forecourt. A half hearted attempt was made to tape off the seats at the Clocktower but the tape was removed.