Reassurance offered by Public Health director as Kent case of COVID-19 confirmed

Isolation pod at QEQM Hospital

A positive case of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) has been confirmed in Kent today (March 2).

The patient, an employee at a Maidstone business park, has recently returned from Italy, where 1,576 cases have been confirmed.

Chief Medical Officer for England Professor Chris Whitty said: “As of 9am this morning, 4 further patients in England have tested positive for COVID-19.

“All 4 patients had recently travelled from Italy. The patients are from Hertfordshire, Devon and Kent. All are being investigated and contact tracing has begun.

“The total number of confirmed cases in England is now 37. Following previously reported confirmed cases in Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland, the total number of UK cases is 40.”

The person is now in a treatment centre in London.

‘Minimise risk’

Specialists from Public Health England (PHE) are working with Kent County Council and NHS colleagues following the  confirmed case.

Dr James Mapstone, Acting Regional Director, Public Health England South of England, said: “Public Health England is contacting people who had close contact with one of the latest confirmed cases of COVID-19.

“The case is a resident of Kent and had recently travelled to Italy. Close contacts will be given health advice about symptoms and emergency contact details to use if they become unwell in the 14 days after contact with the confirmed case.

“This tried and tested method will ensure we are able to minimise any risk to them and the wider public.”

‘Risk remains low’

Kent County Council’s Director of Public HealthAndrew Scott-Clark said: “I’d like to reassure people that the risk to the general public remains low and we are working with health colleagues to do everything we can to stop the virus spreading and ensure the people of Kent are protected.

“If you have not been contacted by Public Health England as a close contact of the confirmed case you do not need to take any action at this time.”

Health and local authorities are appealing for people to follow national Government guidance to prevent further spread of the illness and limit the numbers affected.


This guidance includes taking basic hygiene precautions as the best way of significantly reducing the chances of spreading any virus: sneeze or cough into a tissue, bin it, wash your hands frequently and don’t touch your face unless you’ve just washed your hands.

Current evidence indicates that most cases appear to be mild, with patients experiencing flu-like symptoms.

Older residents or those with weakened immune systems or long-term conditions may experience more severe symptoms.

People who have recently travelled to an affected area or been in contact with someone who has, and think they have symptoms associated with the coronavirus, should not go to A&E or their doctor but self-isolate at home and ring NHS 111 which has an online coronavirus service.

QEQM isolation pod

A Coronavirus Priority Assessment Service – isolation pod – is currently in place at QEQM Hospital as part of NHS England guidelines for each health organisation to have at least one receiving unit.

The pod, located near the A&E steps, is away from normal clinical areas to protect patients elsewhere across the site from unnecessary risk of potential exposure and to safeguard normal business as usual processes of the department in question.

Last month cases of novel coronavirus were investigated by the East Kent Hospitals Trust with admissions understood to include one initially at QEQM Hospital in Margate.

A sports coach at Ramsgate’s St Lawrence College also self-isolated as a precaution after spending a short amount of time at Singapore airport during a return trip from Australia.

The symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) are:

  • a cough
  • a high temperature
  • shortness of breath

Self-isolation means you should:

  • stay at home
  • not go to work, school or public places
  • not use public transport or taxis
  • ask friends, family members or delivery services to do errands for you
  • try to avoid visitors to your home – it’s OK for friends, family or delivery drivers to drop off food

You may need to do this for up to 14 days to help reduce the possible spread of infection.

For more information on the symptoms and steps to take, go to


    • Full of falsities and nonsense. Why would you ever trust something from a website that denied Sandy Hook and 9/11?

      Please do find better sources of information next time.

  1. As the virus infection is transmittable to others before it has become apparent to the patient with it, it is really too late to isolate that person as they have already passed it onwards to other unsuspecting persons. This looks like it is a real concern to all and it will be spreading no matter how many precautions we take. So, even with 14 days isolation it looks like there is nothing to stop you catching it from someone else after you come out of isolation, because you or they will not know who has it until it is too late !

  2. Rebecca stop with your crazy conspiracy theories, don’t believe everything you read or see online.

  3. Rebecca still believes that planes emit chem trails to poison the population. I mean. Really.

  4. I don’t think we should panic about this virus but the risk of it becoming endemic in the UK are now very high. It’s all very well claiming that the risks to the public are low, but that’s only true until it isn’t. If it becomes endemic older people and those with pre-existing health conditions are the ones in the firing line. I know the government doesn’t want to panic people but I really don’t want to see people I know die from a disease and know that more could have been done to prevent it. I’d be in favour of some more stringent measures to slow down the spread of this disease as much as possible. It may be that it will slow down when the warmer weather arrives and, in my view, it’s worth a bit of pain now if the numbers can be kept down until then. Essential travel only, minimise social gatherings, rapid response units to test potential cases, forced isolation where necessary and, above all, keep anyone who may have the virus away from hospitals with vulnerable patients and care homes. By definition, this means we can’t have members of the medical community who are dealing with the most vulnerable people, involved in screening and treating patients who may have the virus. We need dedicated medical teams to do this and they need to be based in dedicated facilities. There’s no way we can do what the Chinese did and build a 100 bed hospital in a week, so the emergency planners are going to need to get creative; patients need to remain at home, where possible, but hotels and other facilities will need to be commandeered to house them. The need to prevent cross-infection must take priority over everything else.

  5. The isolation pod at QEQM looks to me very much like a shipping container.

    Is this where patients will be left to die ?

    It looks more like the sort of thing one would expect in a third world country. Does it contain a filtered air conditioning system, washing and toilet facilities ? It does not look like it.

    It looks more like the environment in which the virus would continue to thrive . . .

  6. HA HA HA typical of our KCC and NHS a shipping container and these decision makers are running our hospitals

  7. What’s wrong with using a shipping container, so long as it’s clean? Would there be something wrong about using a garden shed? Or a summer-house?

    • It’s essentially acting as a mini-prison for anyone deemed to be infected. There’s no real facilities within and it’s not as secure as you may think.

    • Windows ?
      Toilet ?
      Shower ?
      Ventilation ?
      Heating/cooling dependant on ambient temperature ?

      If you kept cats, dogs, pigs or sheep locked up in there, the animal rights brigade would be up in arms !

      • QEQM isn’t the only hospital using shipping containers as isolation pods. There’s a photo of a cream one in the I.

        There’s a difference between locking up an animal and locking up a human being- the animal would have no element of choice and no understanding of why it was being locked in.

  8. How will it be adequate for a population of 150,000 people?
    Will they bring in a few more shipping containers?

    • Quote: Will they bring in a few more shipping containers?

      No, that’s just the storage facility for the body bags.

    • One pod per person- what’s the percentage per population of people who have tested positive for the virus?

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