The directors of Public Health in Kent and Medway say there have not been significant covid infection spikes across the county and there are no plans to lockdown any part of Kent or Medway.
The statement has been issued in response to speculation by some media outlets over a possible ten areas being targeted for local lockdowns following the measures being taken in Leicester.
In Kent there have been 5,623 recorded cases and in Thanet there have been 690 covid cases recorded.
Localised data from the Office for National Statistics shows Thanet recorded zero deaths in week 25 (up until June 19) and five deaths – four in hospital, one in a care home – the week before that. In total Thanet has suffered 140 covid-related deaths up to June 19 (registered up until June 27).
The East Kent Hospitals Trust – responsible for QEQM in Margate, William Harvey Hospital in Ashford and the Kent & Canterbury as well as smaller sites in Dover and Folkestone – also recorded 21 deaths attributed to covid in the seven days June 23- June 29.
However, the figure is not comparable to the large outbreak experienced by Leicester which has led to local lockdown being enacted.
‘Peaks and troughs’
The Kent and Medway Public Health statement says: “There has been a lot of media speculation about various areas of Kent and Medway this week.
“We monitor all cases and deaths from Covid-19 very carefully as part of the local outbreak plans. We have not seen significant spikes in the county and we are not looking to “lock down” any part of Kent and Medway.
“We expect to see some peaks and troughs as we continue in the first wave of this pandemic. While figures were high initially in places like Ashford and Thanet, it must be remembered that these are cumulative totals and the weekly figures show a steady decline, despite the numbers of people being tested increasing every week.
“We have not experienced large scale outbreaks as seen in Leicester and to put the situation into context, we are finding around 8-10 people testing positive for Covid-19 on a daily basis, which out of 1.8m people in Kent and Medway, is a very small proportion.
“If we experience outbreaks we work with our Public Health England colleagues to firstly deal with the outbreak, and then ensure that if there are more cases than we have predicted, we can explain why.
“We urge people to continue to follow public health advice and latest national guidance on social distancing, thorough and regular handwashing, and accessing a test if they develop symptoms.”
Local Outbreak Control Plan
Kent and Medway councils have created a Local Outbreak Control Plan and set up a Kent and Medway COVID-19 Health Protection Board (HPB).
A focus will be on test and contact tracing. Regional test sites are in Ebbsfleet and Ashford with a site in the east of the county soon to be established
Mobile testing sites are available for deployment in Maidstone, Swale, Canterbury, Ashford, Dover, Folkestone and Medway. Work is ongoing to establish a site in Margate.
The Kent and Medway Outbreak Management Plan sees the councils linking up with health partners and emergency services, regional PHE teams and other Government departments to respond to and deal with clusters or outbreaks locally, in whatever setting they arise. This includes schools, care homes, hospitals, prisons and other community settings.
The message to residents remains clear – to follow national guidance on social distancing, use thorough and regular handwashing, and follow advice if contacted by the NHS Test and Trace system.
Businesses across the county will also be encouraged to continue following national Government guidelines around safe social distancing measures and to support their staff if they are contacted by the NHS and advised to self-isolate for 14 days.
Kent County Council Director of Public Health, Andrew Scott-Clark said: “Testing is essential if contact-tracing systems now in place across the UK are to work effectively, help stop the spread of the virus and avoid the need for country wide lockdown restrictions. Testing also helps the NHS plan for extra demand and predict the capacity they may need across care settings for patients.
“The critical element around COVID-19 is that it appears to cluster and can be passed on by people who have little or no symptoms of the disease. It is therefore critical to maintain social distancing when out and about, wash your hands frequently, and stick to the national messages about self-isolating, if and when asked to by Test and Trace. By playing your part, you will directly help to contain the virus by reducing its spread.”
The NHS test and trace service ensures that anyone who develops symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) can quickly be tested to find out if they have the virus, and also includes targeted asymptomatic testing of NHS and social care staff and care home residents. It also helps trace close recent contacts of anyone who tests positive for coronavirus and, if necessary, notifies them that they must self-isolate at home to help stop the spread of the virus.
Residents in Kent and Medway can find out more information and request a home testing kit or book an appointment at one of the county’s testing centres at www.kent.gov.uk/protectkent
What action should I take if I develop symptoms?
- you must follow the rules to self-isolate with other members of your household and order a test to find out if you have coronavirus
- if you test positive for coronavirus, you must share information promptly about your recent contacts through the NHS test and trace service to help us alert other people who may need to self-isolate
- if you have had close recent contact with someone who has coronavirus, you must self-isolate if the NHS test and trace service advises you to do so
You can apply for a swab test for yourself, or for anyone in your household, if you or they have symptoms.
People working or living in care homes can be tested even if they don’t have symptoms. For more details on home test kits and booking a test at a Kent testing centre, go to www.kent.gov.uk/protectkent