Saga over 50’s travel company is working with Public Health England after a staff member underwent tests for Covid-19 (coronavirus) and is believed to have tested positive.
Although the company is not confirming which site the employee is from, it is understood to be the Thanet base.
A Saga spokesperson said: “The safety and wellbeing of our colleagues is our number one concern and we are working with Public Health England on an ongoing basis.”
The spokesperson said both Saga centres in Thanet and Folkestone remain open.
A customer at Birchington Vale holiday park has also tested positive for the virus. A deep clean is taking place today and other customers have been notified.
A Stagecoach employee has also been tested with a negative result for the virus.
As of 9am today (March 12) 29,764 people have been tested in the UK, of which 29,174 were confirmed negative and 590 were confirmed as positive. Ten patients who tested positive for COVID-19 have died.
Both patients had underlying health conditions.
A full statement from the Chief Medical Officer can be found below ? pic.twitter.com/Xe6KIpcLNA
— Department of Health and Social Care (@DHSCgovuk) March 12, 2020
There are 23 new cases in the south east, bringing the total to 83, and nine cases in Kent -up from five – and two in Medway.
The virus outbreak was upgraded from an epidemic to a pandemic yesterday (March 11). The Chief Medical Officers for the UK have now raised the risk level to high. The country has been moved to the ‘delay’ phase.
Speaking today CMO for England Chris Witty said people showing mild symptoms should self isolate for seven days. He said a new but continuous cough and a temperature at 37.8 or over would be indicators. He also asked people not to call 111 unless their condition deteriorates.
He said a package of measures were being considered but, at this stage, it was too early for social restrictions although the government expected to bring those measures in over the next few weeks.
It is estimated that the UK is still 10 to 14 weeks away from the peak of the virus.
New stay at home guidance also been issued.
— UK Health Security Agency (@UKHSA) March 12, 2020
The picture in Thanet
Kent School of English is no longer accepting students until at least the end of the month.
Principal Andy Flaig said: “Due to the escalating coronavirus situation, we have agreed with our partner schools and agents that, as of this weekend, KSE will not be accepting any students until March 29 at the earliest. We understand this will affect a lot of people locally – staff, suppliers, hosts, voucher-takers and others – but this decision has been made with the local community’s best interests in mind.
“We will be keeping the situation under review and will act according to the advice we receive.”
The halt in language school business is already having an impact on the supply chain in Thanet such as host families, takeaways in Broadstairs and coach companies.
Birchington Vale caravan park is due to undergo a deep clean tonight (March 12) following confirmation from Public Health England that a customer at the club house on March 7 has since tested positive for coronavirus (Covid-19).
Caravan owners have received a message from site owner Park Holidays to advise them of the situation.
The message says: “We have today been advised by Public Health England that a person who attended an event at Birchington Vale clubhouse on Saturday, March 7 has tested positive for coronavirus COVID-19,
“We are therefore contacting everyone who may have been in the vicinity of this person to advise them of the situation and provide advice as recommended by Public Health England.
“We have been given assurances by PHE that the individual has taken the necessary precautions and that the likelihood of anyone else attending the event on March 7 contracting the virus is extremely low. They have advised that prolonged close vicinity contact of at least 15 minutes would be required before any serious risk of infection.”
Park Holidays say PHE is satisfied with the hygiene steps taken but an additional deep clean is being carried out anyway.
Broadstairs and St Peters Town Council
The Broadstairs and St Peters Town Council meeting for March 16 has been cancelled as a precautionary measure.
A statement on social media says: “Due to the ongoing uncertainty with the Covid19 virus, the Town Council has made the decision to cancel the March 16 Town Assembly. All reports will now be posted on the website and members of the community are asked to email the Town Council if they wish to raise any questions.”
Limes Medical Centre
The Limes Medical Centre in Margate is using telephone consultations by clinical staff to triage patients then bring in those that need to have a face to face appointment, the same as other GP practices in the county and following Commissioner and PHE advice.
Prescriptions are able to be electronically sent to a pharmacy of the patients choice.
Assistant Practice Manager Errol White said: “We are encouraging patients not to attend the surgery to support the vulnerable patients we continue to see and safeguard services moving forward. There is no reduction in appointments or clinical support.
“Please can patients ring the surgery for more information. We have put extra reception staff on the phone lines to support this. We request our patients follow Government advice at this time and thank them for their co-operation.”
MP Sir Roger Gale
The North Thanet MP has suspended face to face surgeries but will continue with case work and contact constituents by phone. He said: “For the duration of the Coronavirus pandemic I and my team will continue to operate as normally as possible within the issued guidelines.
“While it is clearly necessary, in the interests of public health, to minimise exposure to possible infection and therefore to suspend public access to our Thanet offices we shall continue to process all constituency casework as usual and regular “advice surgeries” will be conducted by telephone – please call 01843-848588 for an appointment.
“I shall endeavour to attend to my normal duties in The House of Commons, where I am at present chairing The Environment Bill through its Committee stage. While the situation that our country, and indeed the world, faces is serious and warrants sensible precaution it is also necessary to maintain a sense of proportion. We can and will see our way through this difficulty, as we have had to endure other challenges, by working together and supporting and caring for each other.”
Ramsgate Care Centre
Ramsgate Care Centre residential home in Boundary Road shut to visitors on Tuesday (March 10) as a precaution due to a suspected case within a one mile radius. The centre has 41 elderly residents.
Owners Select Healthcare Group’s operation director Brett Bernard said: “We would like assure relatives and stakeholders we have no suspected cases of COVID-19 within the home and this measure has been taken for prevention and to protect the vulnerable adults in our care. Additional measures have also been put in to place within the home.
“Posters, increased infection control and restrictive visiting is already in place. We are assessing the situation daily and will makes appropriate changes when needed.”
Another staff member from St Lawrence College in Ramsgate has gone into isolation. The teacher recently returned from an organised Latin trip to the south of Italy.
A school spokesperson said: “We were made aware that a member of staff who had just returned from a trip to southern Italy had developed a dry cough over the weekend. The teacher concerned otherwise feels well, but as a precautionary measure and in line with guidance from Public Health England (PHE) and NHS 111, the teacher is now self-isolating and is arranging to be tested for Covid-19. The teacher has not been into College since the visit to Italy.
“With the number of reported cases in the UK growing daily, we are, of course, aware that this is a worrying time. The welfare of everyone in the SLC community remains our primary concern and we are keeping all parents and staff informed. At the same time, we need to ensure that our response is proportionate. We continue to take Public Health England advice, which is currently to keep the school open, even if there is a confirmed Covid-19 case.”
The school says a teacher taken ill yesterday (March 11) was a separate health issue not related to Covid-19.
At QEQM Hospital in Margate a testing ‘drive through’ method appears to have been introduced with people urged to stay in their vehicle and call a designated number for further advice. The site also has an isolation pod. Government advice is to stay at home if you present with symptoms.
At Broadstairs Education Centre language school there have been student cancellations and staff are currently working reduced hours due to the spread of coronavirus (Covid-19).
The centre, which has 10 dormitories at its St Peters Park Road base, says the immediate effects of the outbreak are ‘undeniable’ but directors are putting in short and long term plans to protect staff jobs, homestay providers and contractors.
BEC says some Spring bookings have been moved back but has iterated that there is no ‘notion of collapse’ and the school expects to continue flourishing during the second half of year. Bosses say where appropriate, staff will be offered the chance to take up annual leave. It is understood BEC is closing to students until mid-April.
In a message to parents the school said a parent of one of the students has been diagnosed with the virus. The student will self-isolate for 14 days. A member of staff who also had contact with the affected person has taken the same measures.
The school also said: “A small number of students are self-isolating as a precautionary measure due to contact with family or friends who have visited from the affected regions in Northern Italy.”
Head teacher Debra Liddicoat said: “No students have been diagnosed with Coronavirus and therefore we will continue to follow the PHE guidance.”
The children’s outpatient department at QEQM Hospital in Margate was also closed on March 4 after a patient -understood to be a child – presented with the possibility of the Covid-19 (coronavirus) virus.
The Brit Inn in Margate has ditched beer runners and staff will be cleaning the bar surfaces with sanitising agents every half hour or sooner if required. Hand sanitiser will be on bar at all times.
Staff at QEQM Hospital also recently appealed for visitors to refrain from taking away hand sanitiser from the wards.
Kent County Council
Kent County Council is working in close partnership with all organisations to ensure health and social care systems are prepared for further increases in the number of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases.
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.
A new £46 million government package includes funding for urgent work to find a coronavirus vaccine and develop a rapid test for the disease.
Supported by UK funding, eight possible coronavirus vaccines are currently under development and efforts are being made to get any viable vaccines from sequencing of the virus to clinical testing in under a year – a record timeframe. Governments around the world could then work with pharmaceutical companies to get vaccines into production and use.
National updates are published daily at 2pm at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-information-for-the-public