Islington sees ‘dramatic reduction’ in Covid cases – but planning is underway to tackle any future rise

Islington’s public health director Jonathan O’Sullivan. Photograph: @CNWLNHS / Twitter

Covid cases in Islington have seen a huge drop since the spring peak of the Omicron variant but planning is underway to prepare for any rise, a top health boss has said.

Jonathan O’Sullivan, the borough’s acting director of public health, said plans to get people vaccinated quickly are likely to be in place if a new variant emerges or cases grow in the colder weather when people are less likely to meet outside.

He told the council’s health scrutiny committee yesterday that there has been a “dramatic reduction” in people admitted to hospital because they had severe symptons of Covid – with just 45 patients across Camden, Barnet, Haringey, Enfield and Islington recently.

Another 120 hospital patients have tested positive for Covid but were initially being treated for something else.

This compares with 670 inpatients with Covid during Omicron’s March peak.

O’Sullivan said the summer weather means people are outside more, but stressed that they should open windows in homes and offices if meeting indoors.

This autumn, boosters are expected to be offered to over-65s, people over 16 who are clinically susceptible to Covid, such as cancer patients, and people in health and social care settings.

O’Sullivan said vaccination offers the best protection.

Information events are continuing, with Finsbury Park mosque hosting one this week.

Although vaccine take-up has slowed, people can still get their jabs in Islington – whether it’s their first or they have already had some.

To date,170,051 people have had one jab, 157,036 have been vaccinated twice, and 116,502 have had a third or booster vaccine.

Since the pandemic started, 430 people in Islington have died from the virus – the last in April.

It comes as Covid champion Oliur Rahman was honoured for his work helping protect people from the virus. He was awarded the British Empire Medal in the Queen’s Birthday Honours as a “shining example” of a Covid champion for fellow Black, Asian and minority ethnic residents in Islington.

He was praised for his tireless work, and for recognising early in the pandemic “that the biggest issue facing this community was lack of knowledge and understanding caused by language barriers and mistrust”.

He often acted as translator and “quickly became a leader and a trusted representative”.

He also realised that people, “notably those from ethnic minority backgrounds”, were struggling. He handed out free masks, gloves and hand sanitiser – bought from his own pocket – outside supermarkets, underground stations, mosques and schools.

Rahman also worked with councillors to share information with different communities and produce multilingual leaflets with the latest updates.

Tina Jegde also encouraged the community to take up the Covid vaccine during the pandemic, and appeared in the council’s vaccine campaign in 2021. She will be awarded an MBE.

She joined the council 10 years ago, and is the nurse lead for care home quality and joint director of race, equality, diversity and inclusion at Whittington Health NHS Trust.