Richmond Council leader Gareth Roberts has admitted there appears to be "no pattern, rhyme, or reason" to the surging coronavirus infection rate in the borough.

It comes after new Government data released on Thursday suggested Richmond is now the London borough with the highest infection rate of Covid-19.

The most recent set of data recorded 222 new cases, up from 89 in the previous week - making the infection rate 112.1 new cases per 100,000 people in the week to October 5.

Speaking to Vanessa Feltz on BBC Radio London on Friday morning (October 9) cllr Roberts said: “Unfortunately there seems to be no pattern, no rhyme or reason to it at all, we’re looking at the data trying to establish if there are patterns, but unfortunately at the moment we have not been able to see any.”

However, he did say university students who have moved away from the borough might have their test results show up as belonging to Richmond.

"The one thing which has been suggested and we're now looking at that, is that perhaps it's students who have moved away from the borough, gone to university, they are catching the virus, they are getting tested, but [...] it's still within the borough, the tests are coming back and are being shown as one of our tests."

It is thought that this may be because students are still registered with GPs in Richmond borough.

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When asked about a London-wide lockdown, he said further restrictions should apply to all boroughs, despite differing levels of infection.

“We’re all aware of what we need to have is clarity of message in terms of how we are explaining the virus and the spread of the virus to people.

“If we’re going to have a different rule for Kingston than we have for Hounslow than we have for Havering that we have for Hackney then that is a recipe for confusion. And the one thing that we don’t need is more confusion,” he said.

“The problem is, if you have businesses which are being kept open as usual, say for example, Richmond and Kingston were to have different set-ups, different rules and regulations, then if all of the pubs and restaurants and bars in Kingston were to remain open, but the ones in Richmond were to remain closed, everybody from Richmond would just pop over to Kingston for a jolly night out, have a good time and then come home, possibly spreading more of the virus over in Kingston, and then Kingston would go into lockdown.”

He explained that while some boroughs such as Sutton have a comparatively low level of infection, Richmond was in the same position just a few weeks ago.

“It isn’t that you have a constant that when you reach a certain level you stay at that level, it’s a fluid situation,” he said.

“That’s why it’s all the more important that it’s a single set of rules and restrictions, hopefully as short a term as we can possibly make it, but one rule for all of London and then we can understand what the rules are. Not having this patchwork approach which would just lead to confusion and chaos.”

He confirmed that no major concerns had yet been raised over hospitalisations in the borough, but there has been a small rise in admissions across London.

In a video to residents on Twitter yesterday (October 8) he also confirmed there have been “a few cases” in the borough’s schools, but confirmed there had been no care home outbreaks.

Reacting to the news that Richmond was now the worst infected area of the capital this morning, landlord of the Angel and Crown pub, Nick Botting, feared possible further measures would mean he would have to close his business again.

“Locking down my business again is just going to be a bit of a disaster but there’s not a lot I can do, I’ll just have to try and deal with it,” he said.

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Nick Botting at the Angel and Crown Pub in Richmond before lockdown. Credit - Fuller, Smith & Turner

He said the current 10pm curfew “didn’t make any sense” while supermarkets were allowed to stay open.

“In the restaurant and the pub trade, we work one of the strictest environments after hospitals. We are so strict about the way we run things and then to close us down at ten o’clock when I don’t think we’re really the issue. I think there might be an odd few bad apples causing this problem, but my answer to that is that if they are not sticking to the rules, close that one pub down,” he said.

“But for those of us who are doing everything properly, why shut us down? It doesn’t make any sense.”

However, he conceded there might not be any more measures the government can take to stem the spread of the virus.

“I suppose they can restrict it again to 8pm but you might as well just shut them down. If you’re reducing people’s ability to take money it becomes unviable to stay open. The bottom line is we need money to stay open. If you start restricting that means you’re restricting the revenue, that means staff aren’t getting work and the business is going to fail.”

He welcomes another localised furlough scheme if needed, but worries it will not be enough.

“We need to get money in the tills to get cash flow going, furlough will help but it’s not going to be the solution,” he said. 

Earlier this week, mayor of London Sadiq Khan said a local lockdown is unlikely to be introduced in the capital this week, despite rising infection rates in nearly all boroughs.

The capital has been on the government’s watch list for almost two weeks now but no extra measures have been introduced.

It is understood that London will move as one, and will not place measures on individual boroughs.