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Residents of the borough have been told to avoid mixing with other households “unless absolutely necessary” in a bid to slow the spread of COVID-19. Alarming Government data suggests 143 new infections were recorded in the seven days up to September 28, equating to 44 cases per 100,000 people. This marked a significant increase compared with the previous week, when the figure was 38.5 cases per 100,000.
There have now been a total of 1,438 cases of COVID-19 recorded in the borough between March 4 to September 26, which has a population of 308,650, according to Tower Hamlets Council’s website.
In an open letter to residents also published on the council’s website, Mr Biggs said: “Despite a fall over the summer, we are seeing cases of COVID-19 rise and we need to accept that the situation is once again worsening.
“Tower Hamlets now has one of the highest levels of COVID-19 in London.
“As a second rise in infections hits us, we must take all steps necessary to limit the spread of the virus and protect those most at risk.”
Mr Biggs pointed out that the virus had a higher impact on older and medically vulnerable people, as well people from ethnic minorities.
In a likely reference to the popularity of nightspots in fashionable Shoreditch and Brick Lane, he also emphasised the fact that young people were catching the disease in increasing numbers.
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He added: “The diverse communities in Tower Hamlets are what make our borough great, but it also means Tower Hamlets is at greater risk.
“Every single one of us must play our part to protect our communities and stop the virus spreading.
“With this in mind, now is the time we must take further action.
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“I am clear that the current national rules are a minimum and my advice to you all is to do everything in your power to protect each other.
“Our individual actions have consequences for us all.
“In addition to the national measures, we’re asking residents to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 locally.
“Many cases of COVID-19 in Tower Hamlets are as a result of people visiting other households, so we are asking residents to avoid this unless absolutely necessary.
“This really is a matter of life and death and we need to act urgently.”
Mr Biggs warned the next few months would be “very challenging”.
He added: “Without a vaccine or more effective treatment, our primary weapon against the virus is responsible behaviour.
“Measures to curb the spread of the virus will only work if people follow them.”
Deputy mayor of Tower Hamlets Rachel Blake told the Evening Standard: “We have to be really open with people about how serious this is.
“We’ve got the fourth highest infection rate in London.”
She denied the borough was entering a local lockdown – but added: “Our evidence shows that households visits is a high area of transmission and that is why we are asking people to avoid visiting other households.”
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