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CORONAVIRUS: Wards hardest hit by pandemic revealed

CORONAVIRUS: Wards hardest hit by pandemic revealed

Credit: Birmingham City Council

Sparkbrook and Balsall Heath East, Lozells and Aston have been the hardest hit in terms of excess deaths during the pandemic, papers show.

In the worst affected ward – Sparkbrook and Balsall Heath East – registered deaths were twice the number expected between April 2020 and March 2021.

The average increase in deaths across all wards was 35 per cent, with the lowest increase of three per cent occurring in Tyseley and Hay Mills.

The findings have been published on Birmingham City Council’s website and are due to be presented at a meeting by Dr Julia Duke-Macrae, consultant in public health, today (October 6).

Not all of the excess deaths were Covid deaths – but a presentation due to be made to the local Covid outbreak engagement board shows 40 per cent of deaths registered in Sparkbrook and Balsall Heath East were due to the virus.

Bartley Green had the lowest proportion of Covid deaths in relation to all registered deaths at 12.2 per cent, while the average across all wards was 23.5 per cent.

Among “peer/comparator” areas including Liverpool, Leeds and Sheffield, Birmingham’s ratio of registered deaths compared to how many were expected was second only to Leicester at 1.25.

A total of 2,533 Covid deaths in the city during the period are taken into account in the report, based on Office for National Statistics (ONS) data.

The city council has said this figure is “unlikely to have captured all Covid deaths” and may rise.

Out of the total considered, there were 416 deaths among those aged 15 to 64 and 2,117 among those aged over 65.

The papers state there were significantly more deaths in the male population than female at 1,405 deaths for men and 1,128 for women.

In terms of ethnicity, the papers identify white (British, Irish and other white) as the group with the highest number of Covid deaths at 1,611 or 58 per cent of the total.

This was followed by the Asian group including Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Indian and Chinese people – where there were 644 deaths or 23 per cent of the total.

There were 211 deaths among African/Caribbean communities – eight per cent of the total.

But Caribbean residents had the highest ratio of Covid deaths in relation to their population size, while British, Pakistani and Indian residents had roughly an expected number of deaths for their population sizes.

The paper states wards with higher Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) populations had higher rates of Covid deaths.

One ward with a BME population close to 90 per cent had 800 Covid deaths per 100,000, compared to wards with around 10 per cent BME population which had a Covid death rate of around 100 per 100k.

The papers states the majority of those who died from Covid-19 (78%) had other underlying conditions with pneumonia, diabetes mellitus and hypertension being the most common other factors.

People working in the category of “skilled trades and technical occupation” – such as warehouse workers, electricians and seamstresses – saw the highest number of Covid deaths at 509, or 20 per cent of the total.

“Caring personal service occupations” – including housewives, care assistants and cleaners – saw the next highest number of Covid deaths at 503.

Those working in “culture, media and sports occupations” had the lowest number of deaths.

It was also observed that the higher deprivation levels in the ward – by its index of multiple deprivation score – the higher the Covid death rate.

At the same time, wards with higher population densities had higher death rates than those with lower population densities.

The papers state: “Health interventions such as lockdowns, social distancing, face mask, hand washing and vaccines have all played a key role in reducing hospital admissions and deaths.”

Deaths from Covid were seen to decrease in wards with higher take up of the first dose of vaccine.

Wards with the highest Covid death rates generally had a vaccine uptake of less than 40 per cent while those with the lowest Covid death rates had a vaccine uptake of more than 80 per cent.

In terms of place of death, 78 per cent of Covid deaths occurred in hospital while 11 per cent took place in a care home and eight per cent happened at home.

Making recommendations, the paper states: “There is need to continue with the improvement of the uptake of the Covid-19 vaccines and compliance with other non-pharmaceutical interventions whenever these are introduced to break the chain of Covid-19 transmission.

“Continued engagement with at-risk groups in the uptake of health interventions [is recommended]. These include the BME group, people with underlying health conditions and those in the skilled trades and caring personal service occupations.”

Words: Mark Cardwell, Local Democracy Reporter


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