COVID-19: Local infections falling fast but 'no complacency', warns expert
Friday 22nd January 2021
Coronavirus cases continue to fall across the county, but a public health boss has warned residents that the 13 districts are “not out of the woods yet”, writes Ciaran Duggan.
The latest figures show that the number of weekly Covid cases has plumetted by 44% since Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a third national lockdown three weeks ago, on January 4.
Around 9,611 residents were diagnosed with the virus across Kent, including Medway, over the last seven days, compared to 10,751 the week before.
Earlier today, Kent County Council’s (KCC) public health director, Andrew Scott-Clark, pictured, said: “We are not out of the woods by any means, but it does feel like the green shoots are there.”
His optimistic view was expressed during an online meeting involving KCC’s public health committee, which includes a panel of county councillors.
In the meeting, it was revealed that Kent has recorded 486 weekly cases per 100,000 people, which means around 1 in 200 people have the virus.
Swale, which had the highest rate of infection of the UK in November, has seen rates of the virus drop by 33% from January 4 to January 16. Another outlier, Thanet, saw infection numbers drop by around 29% in the same period.
Kent’s rate is below the average number of cases in the south east of England and England’s national average of 497 people who tested positive with Covid.
At the meeting, Mr Scott-Clark said: “Since the beginning of January we have seen a steady decline in the case rates. However 486 is no reason to be really jubilant yet, we need to see those case rates continue to reduce.”
There has been a “significant” drop in residents contracting the virus aged up to 15, but “less” for working age people and the over 60s group, he added.
Pressure faced on NHS hospitals across the county has been forecast to continue over the next few weeks as vaccinations are rolled out, with more than 4 million people inoculated in England, including 200 Kent care homes.
At least 300 soldiers from the UK armed forces continue to assist with the creation of asymptomatic coronavirus test sites across the Kent region.
At the walk-through locations, people will undergo a swab test that gives quick results, within a couple of hours, by text or email. Those who are found to have the virus will be told to self-isolate for at least 10 days.
So far, 24 centres are running in the county to help break the transmission of the virus, with three more to open, including Ashford North Youth Centre tomorrow and two more in Gravesend and Herne next Wednesday.
Around 110,000 tests have been carried out and 1,100 residents have tested positive for coronavirus, marking 1.2% of people.
KCC’s cabinet member for public health, Cllr Clair Bell (Con), said: “That does not sound a lot, but it means almost 1,000 people who did not know they had the virus are now able to self-isolate and reduce the risk of spreading it.”
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