THE Vale of Glamorgan’s neighbourhoods worst hit by the Covid-19 pandemic have been revealed in the first annual death toll of the virus.
The data published by the Office for National Statistics shows people living in the poorest areas are more likely to die from the disease compared to those in the most affluent.
Crowded living conditions and low-paid jobs are among the factors, claim the Institute of Health Equity, which says lives could have been saved if better safety measures were imposed.
In the 12 months from March last year, 266 people in the Vale of Glamorgan died due to Covid-19, according to the ONS figures – a rate of 185 per 100,000 people.
The peak month for deaths was January when 69 were recorded.
Across Wales, 6,646 people lost their lives to the virus – 196 deaths per 100,000 people.
The figures also show which of the Vale of Glamorgan’s 15 neighbourhoods saw the most and fewest deaths of residents over the 12-month period.
Factors behind a larger number can include the number of care homes in a particular area.
The neighbourhoods with the highest number of deaths:
1) Llandough and Cogan – 30 deaths due to Covid-19
2) Penarth – 28
3) Barry West – 25
The neighbourhoods with the fewest number of deaths:
1) Peterston-super-Ely and Wenvoe – 5
2) Ogmore-by-Sea and Llandow – 6
3) Barry Dyfan and Illtyd –10
As well as providing local-level data, the ONS statistics also showed the wide disparity in the pandemic’s impact on different communities.
The most deprived areas across Wales had death rates related to Covid-19 almost double that of the most affluent parts – 299 per 100,000 compared to 159 over the 12-month period from March last year.
The Institute of Health Equity said those in deprived areas were more likely to be a key or low-paid economy worker, meaning they were less able to work from home and were at greater risk to infection.
It also said they were more likely to be living in crowded accommodation.
Senior advisor Peter Goldblatt said: “Earlier and stricter lockdown would have saved lives disproportionately in deprived areas.
“However, to do this effectively would have required greater support to key workers and those in the gig-economy.
“This is both in terms of more generous and wider furlough and improved supply of PPE and other safety measures both in the workplace, in the community and while travelling to and from work.”
The Health Foundation is examining the impact of the pandemic on health equalities as part of its Covid-19 Impact Inquiry, with the findings to be reported to the Government in the summer.
Senior research fellow, Merhrunisha Suleman, said: “Long term concerted policy effort could have helped to reduce these underlying health inequalities but in the last decade the focus has shifted towards addressing acute need rather than investing in longer term determinants of our health.”
The Department for Health and Social Care highlighted that the higher rate of deaths in the most deprived areas was not just confined to those caused by Covid-19.
The department said the Government was committed to levelling up health outcomes.
A spokesperson said: “Every death from this virus is a tragedy and our condolences go out to everyone who has lost a loved one.
“We know this pandemic has caused financial hardship for many people across the country, and we have acted decisively to make sure nobody is left behind, with extensive support for people on low-pay to help them through this period.
“We have some of the highest vaccine uptake rates in the world but we are going further, recently publishing detailed plans so people from all communities get the right information about vaccine safety so they take up the offer of a jab when it comes, protecting themselves and their loved ones.”
The figures are for recorded deaths where Covid-19 was registered as the main cause. The rate of deaths are age-standardised, which means they account for age and population size.