By Local Democracy Reporter Ciaran Duggan
A “close eye” is being kept on the worrying impacts of the second coronavirus wave on the NHS in Kent, it has emerged.
Kent County Council’s (KCC) public health director, Andrew Scott-Clark, said there has been an “upswing” in hospital admissions at health trusts across the county in recent days. There are seven main hospitals in Kent.
The trusts include East Kent Hospitals, Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells and Medway NHS Foundation, who in particular faced a “difficult weekend”, according to Mr Scott.
Speaking to KCC’s cabinet earlier today (November 9), he said: “So far nothing is impacting on the functioning of the trusts at the moment, but we are keeping a very close eye on what’s happening in those sectors.”
More than 100 intensive care beds are available for patients with Covid in Kent hospitals and this number will increase over the next few months, says the Kent and Medway Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).
Wilf Williams, the Clinical Commissioning Group’s chief accountable officer, said: “The NHS is still open and here to help. We would urge patients who have a GP or hospital appointment booked to attend unless they hear otherwise.
“Systems are in place for non-Covid treatments to be done safely.”
In September and October, the Kent NHS carried out 295,500 hospital appointments, 30,000 surgery treatments and 86,500 scans and other diagnostics.
Mr Williams added: “At this point we’re in a relatively good position in Kent and Medway, but the number of hospital admissions for Covid patients has increased and we expect that to continue in the weeks ahead.
“We certainly can’t be complacent and we would urge the public to play their part in following the guidelines to protect the NHS.”
Meanwhile, Kent’s current coronavirus infection rate sits at around 133 cases per 100,000 people, based on Government data from the last seven days, which is 37% higher than last week.
This remains well below England’s national average of around 243 cases per 100,000, but some districts in Kent are getting close to that figure.
In the summer, people would have had to quarantine for 14 days if they came from a Covid hotspot where there were as few as 20 cases, per 100,000.
At the cabinet meeting, Mr Scott-Clark said the national lockdown “could not have come soon enough” and says Kent is “four weeks behind where England is”.
“We have seen quite large and very quick upswings in cases, particularly in Thanet and Swale, and then a variation of patterns across the rest of the county,” he added.
The upward trend seems to have been caused by Covid outbreaks in clusters at schools, workplaces and specific institutions, including at least 32 Covid cases at one of Sheppey’s three prisons, HMP Swaleside, last month.
In comparison to other local authorities in the south east of England, Kent’s weekly average is higher than some others, including East Sussex (68) and Essex (103).
The national lockdown restrictions are due to expire on December 2. Councillors from different political colours have called for clarity around Kent’s future.
KCC opposition leader Rob Bird (Lib Dem) said: “If we are going to have a localised approach it is 100% essential that we have an effective track and trace system in place, which is capable of tracking at least 85% of contacts.”
Meanwhile, KCC leader Roger Gough (Con) said that “progress” was being made on developing a more localised track and trace.
Yesterday’s (November 8) figures on the government coronavirus dashboard show 54 new cases reported for Thanet, making a total of 379 between November 2-8. This is a rise of 138 on the figure for the previous seven days.
The seven-day rolling rate of infection up to November 3 for Thanet is 220.5 per 100,000 residents. The total number of people in Thanet who have had a confirmed positive test result as of 8 November was 1,826.
Thanet has suffered 119 deaths within 28 days of a positive covid test reported up until November 8 and 163 (week ending October 23) where Covid is mentioned on the death certificate as one of the causes. These are people who have Covid-19 mentioned on the death certificate, meaning that it may not be the primary cause of death.
Today (November 9) Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE announced their coronavirus vaccine can prevent more than 90% of people from getting Covid-19.
Analysis shows the case split between vaccinated individuals and those who received the placebo indicated a vaccine efficacy rate above 90%, at 7 days after the second dose.
#This means that protection is achieved 28 days after the initiation of the vaccination, which consists of a 2-dose schedule.
“Today is a great day for science and humanity. The first set of results from our Phase 3 COVID-19 vaccine trial provides the initial evidence of our vaccine’s ability to prevent COVID-19,” said Dr. Albert Bourla, Pfizer Chairman and CEO. “We are reaching this critical milestone in our vaccine development program at a time when the world needs it most with infection rates setting new records, hospitals nearing over-capacity and economies struggling to reopen. With today’s news, we are a significant step closer to providing people around the world with a much-needed breakthrough to help bring an end to this global health crisis. We look forward to sharing additional efficacy and safety data generated from thousands of participants in the coming weeks.”
The Phase 3 clinical trial began on July 27 and has enrolled 43,538 participants to date, 38,955 of whom have received a second dose of the vaccine candidate as of November 8.
An application will be made for emergency approval to use the vaccine by the end of the month.