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Coronavirus death toll in Aberdeen community lamented as a ‘reflection of poverty’

Woodside has seen the highest death rate across the north and north-east, according to new figures released by the National Records of Scotland.
Woodside has seen the highest death rate across the north and north-east, according to new figures released by the National Records of Scotland.

Figures revealing an Aberdeen community’s high coronavirus death toll have been lamented as a reflection on its level of poverty.

The National Records of Scotland (NRS) has, for the first time, provided a detailed geographical breakdown on deaths linked to the virus.

It revealed that Woodside, to the north of the city, has suffered the highest number of Covid-19 deaths per head of population in the area – followed by the Peterhead Harbour area in Aberdeenshire and the north-east of Skye.

The breakdown reveals that 17 people have lost their lives in Woodside, in a population of 3,989 – which is the 17th highest death rate in the country.

Volunteers from the Fersands and Fountain Community Project (FFCP) are providing help for Woodside residents during lockdown, and keeping in touch with vulnerable families and people in the area.

Coordinator of the project, Mark Lovie, said the new figures are a direct “reflection of the poverty that still exists in the area”.

He said: “Of course it is very sad that Woodside has the highest death rate, but in some aspects we have known that general health in the area is poor.

“Community services, health and education services in the area are more important than ever and vital in changing things around.”

Politicians and councillors from across the party spectrum have described the high death toll as “tragic” and “frightening”.

Aberdeen North MP, Kirsty Blackman has represented the area for 13 years and hailed efforts led by the community and religious organisations to help.

She said: “Although Woodside is one of the most deprived communities in Aberdeen, people there have always, and I’m sure will always, pull together and support each other.

“I would send my condolences to all those who have lost family members or friends to Covid.  It’s so important that we continue to follow Scottish Government guidance to ensure as many people as possible can be protected.”

Labour councillor for the area, Lesley Dunbar, added: “These figures show we might all be weathering the same storm of Covid-19 but we’re not all in the same boat.

“In the city the highest levels of risk of Covid-19 in the Woodside ward were predicted last month. Woodside, with low income and poorest health in the city, has suffered most severely. It is a tragedy.”

Scottish Conservative north-east MSP Tom Mason sent his sympathies to everyone in the area.

Mr Mason said: “Serious attention must be given by the Scottish Government to places such as Woodside to ensure residents have access to protection and feel they have the adequate level of care available – it’s vital this is done.”

The community was previously named as the most deprived area in Aberdeen, according to figures released by the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD) in January – and ranked as the 313th most deprived area in Scotland.

North-east Labour MSP Lewis Macdonald added that the Covid-19 crisis has highlighted inequality in health and how some communities are “more vulnerable than others”.

A total of 22 people have died as a result of Covid-19 in the Peterhead Harbour region, from a population of 6,432.

The figures relating to Skye are skewed by the fact that the 10 deaths were all recorded at the troubled Home Farm Care Home, which suffered from a huge outbreak in April.

According to the report released by NRS, people in the most deprived areas were 2.1 times more likely to die with Covid-19.

A total of 373 people in the north and north-east have died after contracting Covid-19 since the pandemic began – with an increase of six in the past week in Grampian.

It comes as new figures reveal that, as of June 14, a total of 4,070 coronavirus deaths were recorded across Scotland.

There have been 70 since June 7, which marks the seventh weekly drop in a row and lowest weekly total since late March.

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