Although the Isle of Wight has had fewer infections and deaths from Covid-19 than most other areas, it will be one of the two areas in the country most badly affected by the outbreak, according to a report published today by the Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS). The influential think-tank carried out detailed research that identified nine local authority areas with particular ‘vulnerabilities’, describing the pandemic as ‘very much an economic and social crisis’ as well as a public health issue.
The nine local authorities include both urban and rural areas in both the North and South of the country and identify places where residents are most likely to be at risk of severe symptoms, local workers and businesses will face the greatest damage from the medium to long term effects of the pandemic and children are more at risk of falling behind or suffering harm due to school closures. Even among this group the Isle of Wight and Torbay ‘stand out’, for being in the top 20 per cent in each of these categories reflecting health, economy and family. The report says this is primarily due to relatively elderly populations, reliance on tourism and the hospitality industry and existing pockets of deprivation and poverty.
Worryingly, the report states that areas with low existing infection rates (such as the Island) have the potential for ‘much more serious impacts in the future’ if there is a second wave of infection meaning that the ‘continued need for stricter forms of social distancing will be higher’. It also says that the findings ‘suggest policymakers and politicians are in for a difficult time’ as policy should be tailored to local circumstances in a way that has not been seen before in the UK.
The IFS report also reveals that the Island was one of the last areas to hit ‘peak infection’.
The IW Observer has contacted Dave Stewart, the Leader of the Isle of Wight Council for a comment.
You can read the full report here