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Coronavirus: Deep cleans and cancelled events as Covid-19 arrives in Camden

Camden Rocks music festival abandoned

12 March, 2020 — By Tom Foot

CORONAVIRUS arrived in Camden this week with events being cancelled and services interrupted. Officially, there were five recorded cases in the borough but this figure was expected to be higher by the end of the week with more testing taking place.

The spread of the pandemic, which has seen more than 120,000 infections across the world and led to more than 4,000 deaths, has led public health officials to once more urge people to regularly wash their hands with hot and soapy water.

As the numbers grew, developments in Camden saw:

  • Managers of Camden Rocks – the annual music festival which attracts thousands of young people to Camden Town each year – cancelled the event which had been due to take place in June.
  • Belsize Community Library was temporarily closed while a visitor waited for coronavirus test results.
  • Children’s cardiac surgery at Great Ormond Street Hospital in Bloomsbury was suspended for two weeks after a staff member was diagnosed with Covid-19.
  • Hampstead Hill School, next to the Royal Free Hospital, underwent a deep clean after a parent of one of its pupils was confirmed to have the virus.
  • The Hampstead Observatory was closed to visitors as a precaution.
  • Facebook sent staff home from its offices in Fitzrovia after a positive test.


  • Arsenal saw last night’s (Wednesday) Premier League match with champions Manchester City called off after the discovery that a visiting chairman at the Emirates Stadium had tested positive. This evening (Thursday) it was announced first team manager Mikel Arteta had been diagnosed with the virus.

Anybody with symptoms – a cough, fever or shortness of breath – has been urged to call 111 rather than heading to GP surgeries. Patient tests are taking place in pods outside hospitals.

Hundreds of high street businesses, meanwhile, are expected to take a financial hit if trade slumps due to falling visitor numbers.

The Belsize Community Library, in Antrim Grove, remained closed yesterday after a visitor contacted staff earlier in the week to say they were being tested. The Winch youth project, which runs the library in Antrim Road, said: “We took swift action to close the library to safeguard our community. We hope to reopen by the weekend, once we have given it a good clean.”

At Yerbury Primary School in Tufnell Park – on the Islington side of the borough boundary – a parent has also been diagnosed. He had not been in the school grounds for more than a month.

At Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH), children’s planned heart surgery and appointments were suspended for a fortnight after a “healthcare professional” tested positive for coronavirus. The staff member was working in the cardiology department of the world-famous specialist children’s hospital. Patients who came into contact with the staff member have been contacted by hospital managers and also told to stay indoors.

The Hampstead Scientific Society, which manages the Hampstead Observatory’s telescope near Whitestone Pond, said it was taking the decision to close to the public “due to everyone’s responsibility to help slow down the transmission rate” and ease “a huge burden on the health service”.

Meanwhile, boxers from St Pancras ABC were dealt a “disappointing” blow this week when the club cancelled their annual dinner show over concerns about the virus.

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