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Coronavirus: Deprived areas hit twice as hard


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The most deprived parts of England and Wales have been hit twice as hard by coronavirus as wealthier areas, the Office for National Statistics said.

Urban areas were markedly worse affected than rural areas.

And London had significantly more deaths from coronavirus per 100,000 people than any other region.

Mortality rates are “normally higher in more deprived areas” and coronavirus appeared to be “increasing this effect”, an ONS statistician said.

In England, once you adjust for the age of population, there were 128 deaths involving Covid-19 per 100,000 people in the population in the most deprived areas.

The least deprived areas saw less than half that rate (60 deaths per 100,000) in March, April and May.

Urban impact

In Wales a similar pattern was seen, with a rate of 110 coronavirus deaths per 100,000 in the most deprived areas – nearly double the rate of 58 deaths per 100,000 in the wealthiest areas.

There was also a clear link between coronavirus mortality and how densely populated an area is.

Between March and May, the most built-up areas, classified as a “urban major conurbations”, like Greater Manchester and the West Midlands, experienced 124 Covid-19 deaths per 100,000 people.

In contrast, across “urban cities or towns”, like Preston and Brighton, there were 74 Covid deaths per 100,000 people.

This shrank to 48 in rural villages and 23 per 100,000 in the most sparsely populated areas of England and Wales.

Broadly, the more people who come into contact with each other in a given area, the better infection spreads.

There may also be some overlap with the deprivation effect.

Deprivation effect ‘increased’

Nine out of the 10 local authorities with the highest mortality rate from coronavirus, adjusted for age, were in London.

  • The borough of Brent had the highest rate with 211 deaths per 100,000 people, followed by Newham and Hackney
  • The only local authority outside London in the top 10 was Middlesbrough
  • Salford and Hertsmere were also in the top 20 worst-hit areas

By May the outbreak had shifted away from London and the region with the highest age-adjusted Covid-19 mortality rate was the north east.

“General mortality rates are normally higher in more deprived areas, but Covid-19 appears to be increasing this effect,” says Sarah Caul, the ONS’s head of mortality analysis.

“Although London had some of the highest Covid-19 mortality rates in the country during March and April, it is now experiencing lower mortality rates compared with most areas.”

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