By Kathy Bailes, additional reporting Local Democracy Reporter Ciaran Duggan
Rising covid infection rates recorded in Thanet are mainly in workplace settings and care settings but also some household clusters, says Kent Public Health.
According to government data up until October 24 cases per 100,000 people rose to 106.4, and are now understood to stand at 116 per 100,000.
During October 23-29 there were 178 positive cases reported, an increase of 88 on the previous week. The total confirmed cases in Thanet up until yesterday (October 29) was 1,324.
Sadly, there have been 325 coronavirus-related deaths registered for Thanet in the week up until October 16. These are people who have Covid-19 mentioned on the death certificate, meaning that it may not be the primary cause of death. 118 people had received a positive covid test within 28 days of their passing away.
Government data for the seven days until October 24 shows Birchington and Westbrook/Garlinge, both with 21 cases, as the most affected areas of the isle.
Margate Independent Food Bank has also been impacted after three delivery drivers and their families had to self-isolate because of a positive case in a school year bubble. This leaves the food bank with just three drivers.
Thanet has two test centres, a drive in at Manston and a walk in and drive in at the council-owned car park by Dreamland in Margate.
Kent Public Health says there had been an increase in positive rates across Kent in the week.
The authority says: “We are seeing bigger outbreaks in settings which are being managed effectively, however we are also seeing more outbreaks in the community which is worrying. As winter arrives we need to ensure that we are protecting our NHS resources and vulnerable people across Kent, and we urge everyone to play their part to contain the virus now.”
KCC Director of Public Health, Andrew Scott-Clark said: “Cases are rising across the whole of Kent and Medway and we are seeing a range of cases associated with residential settings, workplaces and secondary schools. While some are contained outbreaks, there may also be some community transmission which is helping the virus to continue to spread.
“This means it’s vital that the public to play their part by closely following social distancing, regular handwashing and wearing a mask in public places to help keep the number of cases as low as possible in our county.
“We continue to work alongside PHE local health protection teams, the NHS, Medway Council and Kent’s district councils to monitor for outbreaks in a particular setting such as a care home or school, or more widely across the community. There is more testing available across the county and anyone experiencing Covid symptoms should self-isolate immediately and book a test.
“Although we are still below the regional and national average for rates of cases, which means Kent and Medway are currently deemed as medium risk and within tier 1 restrictions, to avoid parts of the county moving to higher tiers, we appeal to the wider community in Kent to play its part and if you are contacted by the NHS Test and Trace service, then you should follow the guidance given to self-isolate.”
NHS boss Wilf Williams, the chief accountable officer at the Kent and Medway Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said Covid-19 remains the “significant focus” of the county-wide health service.
NHS bosses described the pandemic as the “greatest challenge” it has faced in its 72 year history as Kent and Medway CCG’s governing board met yesterday to discuss the worrying developments.
Mr Williams said “robust escalation” plans had been put in place to minimise the triple effects of winter pressures, Brexit disruption and Covid on Kent’s population of more than 1.5million people.
Speaking to a small group of health chiefs and councillors yesterday, he said: “We know that local infection rates are continuing to increase significantly.
“We are still a long way behind other parts of the country, but on current trends we would be unfortunately catching up all too rapidly unless there is behavioural change.”
Across the country
Nottinghamshire has moved into the top tier of Covid restrictions after reporting 338 cases per 100,000 people following a decision made by the Department for Health run by Secretary of State, Matt Hancock, this week.
Around 2,800 people living in the East Midlands county have been infected with the virus over the last seven days. Pubs, betting shops and saunas have shut close, but gyms, hotels and leisure centres have stayed open.
No indication of tighter restrictions for Kent
In Kent, there is no indication that the county will face tighter restrictions imminently, but three key concerns were identified by the Kent and Medway CCG as potential risks to the county’s health services.
These include virus spikes in Kent’s 543 care homes and the need to protect vulnerable members of NHS staff, including black and ethnic minority groups.
Patients facing delays for urgent surgical operations, such as cancer care, has also been identified as a key consideration.
Mr Williams said: “Considerable attention across the CCG continues to be focused on the coronavirus recovery after the first wave of Covid.
“That work has been progressing well and I think we believe it will be well placed, but there are significant risks in terms of re-emergence of the virus.”
In September, around 2,800 Kent patients received urgent surgery, which was 41% above the target for that month.
Some areas remain below target, including the number of MRI scans and troubles around Kent GP access.
For more information go to www.kent.gov.uk/protectkent