Unsurprisingly, Covid-19 continued to be one of the biggest stories in Southwark this year. We ended the year as one of the London boroughs with the highest numbers of new Covid cases, just behind Lambeth and Wandsworth.
Just as at the end of last year there were concerns of hospitals being overwhelmed as new cases mounted and NHS staff went off sick with the virus in large numbers.
Southwark largely reflected the pandemic in the country as a whole. The year started off badly, with more people dying after testing positive in the borough for Covid in January 2021 than the previous eight and a half months. Cases and deaths gradually tailed off as the latest lockdown and the vaccine drive began to take effect.
Covid-19 infections rose again in the summer as the UK opened up, with the News reporting a “race” to get everyone double-jabbed. Among many vaccine centres in the borough, the Den put on a huge walk-in vaccine clinic in July for all adults in south-east London. Gradually, cases died down again until winter, with the recent emergence of the new Omicron variant.
But Omicron was thought to cause less of a serious illness than earlier strains of the virus, especially for people who have had their booster jab. More than 100,000 people had had their booster in Southwark by the end of the year.
Guy’s and St Thomas’ gave their first Covid-19 vaccine on December 8 2020, and a year later had given out more than 775,000 jabs to over 450,000 people – enough to fill Millwall stadium the Den 22 times over. About one in every eighteen jabs in the capital were given in the NHS trust’s six vaccine centres.
As last year, alongside the tragic illness and death caused by the virus there were uplifting stories of people helping each other out.
From the Lions Food Hub set up by Millwall women’s goalkeeper Kelly Webster, to a fundraiser launched by nightclub Ministry of Sound to pay for care for DJ Steve Laviniere, left paralysed by Covid-19, the pages of the News were full of stories of the community coming together to support people made worse off by the pandemic.
And after last year’s virtual service, Albin’s put on its traditional Christmas memorial again in December for the 22nd year, attended in person by about 1,000 people.