Council with highest COVID-19 death rate brands illness a ‘housing disease’

The council with the highest COVID-19 death rate in the country has branded the virus a “housing disease” and is now drawing up plans looking at how to tackle its severe impact in the area.

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Newham in east London has the highest coronavirus death rate in the country (Picture: Getty)
Newham in east London has the highest coronavirus death rate in the country (Picture: Getty)
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The council with the highest COVID-19 death rate in the country has branded the virus a “housing disease” and is now drawing up plans looking at how to tackle its severe impact in the area #ukhousing

Council with highest COVID-19 death rate brands illness a “housing disease” #ukhousing

Newham Council’s action comes as exclusive Inside Housing analysis points to a clear pattern between hotspots of coronavirus deaths and housing factors such as overcrowding, homelessness and a lack of social housing.

A comparison of official data on COVID-19 age-related mortality rates and housing overcrowding shows that of the 20 local authority areas where COVID-19 has claimed most lives per 100,000 people, 14 also have the highest percentage of households in homes with fewer bedrooms than they need.


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Newham was revealed at the beginning of May to have the UK’s highest COVID-19 mortality rate as 144.3 people have died from the disease per 100,000 population.

The east London borough also has the worst housing overcrowding problem, with 25.2% of households affected, and the highest proportion of households in temporary accommodation at 46.1 per 100,000.

John Gray, lead member for housing services at Newham Council, told Inside Housing: “We’ve got to get our act together, especially in Newham in the context of the worst age-related mortality rates in the country. Housing is definitely linked to that fact.”

He added: “This is a housing disease. We’re trying to put together some thoughts and some plans on how we can address this.”

Adam Tinson, a senior analyst at The Health Foundation, said overcrowded living conditions could help coronavirus spread as “it makes it quite hard” for people with symptoms to self-isolate and that low-income households are more likely to be in an overcrowded home with someone in a vulnerable group.

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