Rise in South East R rate and positive covid tests in Thanet

Covid test site at Manston Photo Frank Leppard

A slight rise in the South East R rate – which measures the rate of transmission of the coronavirus – may be due to low incidence and/or clustered outbreaks according to the latest data from the government.

Currently the rate stands at between 0.8 and 1 for the South East – including Kent – and at 0.7 to 0.9 for the UK. For England the average rate is the same as that in the South East.

The reproduction rate needs to be below one to show a flattening of the virus. If the growth rate is greater than zero (+ positive), then the epidemic is growing.

The infection rate for Thanet has also increased to 851 positive cases and 142 losses have been recorded, a rise of two in the last week.

Photo Frank Leppard

Increased testing will have taken place among isle residents following the opening of a covid test centre at the Manston airport site.

The centre is open seven days a week from 8am to 7pm and will be in place for four months. People can drive in and either pre-book on the government portal or register on the gate.

The site at Manston airport car park is in addition to sites already operating in Ashford and Ebbsfleet, plus mobile testing units deployed more locally around the county including Dover, Canterbury, Folkestone, Medway, Maidstone, and Sittingbourne.

Anyone with coronavirus symptoms, however mild, can get a free swab test that takes less than a minute. Tests can be booked or ordered as soon as symptoms begin at nhs.uk/coronavirus or by calling 119.

Manston test centre Photo Sam Bambridge

The site is part of the largest network of diagnostic testing facilities created in British history, including 70 drive-through sites, 11 walk-through sites, 125 mobile units, home testing and satellite kits and three mega laboratories.

Anyone testing positive for the virus in England will be contacted by NHS Test and Trace to help them track their contacts. This will help people to identify who they may have been in close contact with, protecting others from further transmission.

Photo Frank Leppard

Close contacts of those testing positive will also hear from NHS Test and Trace, advising them to stay at home for 14 days to prevent them from unknowingly spreading the virus. They will be advised to also book a test if they develop symptoms.

The testing centre is being operated in partnership with Mitie and will offer self-administered tests.