Head to the coast to beat Covid? Small seaside towns have fewer deaths

Head to the coast to beat Covid? Small coastal towns have death rates from coronavirus almost HALF those of larger inland towns in Britain

  • Mortality rates lower in large seaside towns than large non-coastal towns.
  • Data for England and Wales released by the Office for National Statistics today
  • Examined Covid mortality rates in towns with populations of 225,000 and under 

Doctors have talked up the health benefits of the seaside with its fresh, salt-tinged air for centuries. 

Now it appears they may have been on to something when it comes to coronavirus.

The death rate in seaside towns is almost half that of built-up areas further inland, according to new statistics released today.

But the difference is most marked when it comes to small seaside towns, according to new figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Mortality rates up to September 18 showed that  they were lower in large seaside towns (63.0 per 100,000 population) than for large non-coastal towns (102.2). 

In smaller towns, the respective rates were 57.3 per 100,000 for those on the coast and 53.1 for those near the coast, compared with 84.4 per 100,000 for those inland. 

The death rate in seaside towns is almost half that of built-up areas further inland, according to new statistics released today. Pictured is St Mawes in Cornwall

The ONS offered no explanation for the difference in the data, which analyses towns with populations of 225,000 and below.

 The vast majority of smaller coastal towns are situated in more affluent parts of the UK, including the South East, East Anglia and some of the South West. But they are also generally more deprived than inland conurbations.

According to the ONS date released today: ‘Overall, two in every three (67 per cent) of the coastal towns are in the higher income deprivation category compared with just over one in every three (36 per cent) non-coastal towns. 

‘Along the east coast of England (encompassing the regions of East of England, East Midlands, Yorkshire and The Humber and North East) the share of coastal towns in the higher income deprivation category is particularly high at 85 per cent (39 towns out of 46). 

‘It is also high in the North West of England where 16 out of 21 coastal towns are in this higher income deprivation category. 

‘Overall, over 3.8 million out of the 5.4 million who live in coastal towns in England and Wales live in one of the 114 higher income deprivation towns. ‘  

Rowland Kao, the Sir Timothy O’Shea Professor of Veterinary Epidemiology and Data Science, University of Edinburgh, said: ‘The reasons for deprivation are many – these are often correlated with each other. However there are key differences in the reasons for deprivation when comparing rural and urban areas. 

‘In particular, while deprivation in rural areas (including some seasides) often is due to remoteness and access, housing density and personal health which drive deprivation in more urban areas are less of an issue, and it is these latter factors that seem to be more closely related to COVID-19 transmission. 

‘However, this does not mean that there are no risks – movement of people from areas with higher infection rates (both day visits and local holidays) will always present a risk of introducing COVID-19 into these seaside areas; should this happen remoteness may present challenges in terms of access to hospitals with intensive care units.’

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