Kent County Council leader Roger Gough says extra testing capacity will be focused in areas with high covid rates – such as Thanet – in a bid to move the county out of Tier 3 restrictions.
And KCC Director of Public Health, Andrew Scott-Clark said despite the high case numbers data shows the rate is levelling out.
The announcement today (November 26) confirmed the entire county will be in the strictest tier level from December 2, with restrictions being reviewed on December 16.
The Government’s decisions on tiers have been made by ministers based on recommendations by government scientists and medics, taking into account:
Infection rates in all age groups and in particular among the over 60s
How quickly case rates are rising or falling
The number of cases per 100,000 in the general population
Pressure on the NHS – including current and projected NHS capacity – including admissions, bed occupancy and staff absences
Local factors and exceptional circumstances such as a local but contained outbreak
Local authorities were informed by letter this morning, outlining the decision and a reminder of the rules of each tier.
Cllr Gough said: “We appreciate that residents and businesses across the county will be extremely concerned and some areas may feel the Government decision is unfair. It is our priority now to work with everyone to move out of tier 3 as quickly as possible.
“We continue to work tirelessly to reduce the rate of transmission across Kent, focusing on the most affected areas with extra testing capacity and engaging local communities to ensure that we all comply with restrictions. At the same time continuing to provide support to our most vulnerable people, and providing vital advice and support to Kent businesses.
“We appeal to businesses to play their part by being strict with the guidance affecting them, their staff and their customers – making sure we all follow advice on social distancing and wearing a mask.
“Community outbreaks have been a major cause for concern in some areas of Kent and the second national lockdown had started to show an impact in a slight reduction in the numbers of people testing positive. But it is the same message to all Kent residents now; thank you for all your efforts so far, and we appeal to everyone to continue to take the restrictions seriously and follow the guidance. The faster we get infections down, the sooner we can hope to see restrictions eased to the benefit of residents and businesses.”
Thanet already has walk/drive in test sites in Margate and Manston.
The Kent Local Tracing Partnership goes live in Kent from Friday, November 27, supporting the national Test and Trace service to locate residents who have tested positive for Covid-19. The local system will continue to support the NHS Test and Trace service, using the experience of the Kent Together helpline with KCC commissioned call handlers contacting people that the Government Test and Trace system has not been able to reach within 24 hours.
Once contacted, the advisors will be able to give advice on isolation and testing, establish close contacts, upload details to the National Contact Tracing system, and signpost to assistance available such as financial or practical in terms of supplies of food and medication.
Work also continues with the Department of Health and Social Care regarding supplies of Lateral Flow Devices and targeted wider asymptomatic testing.
Kent County Council (KCC) has invited the army to help with the rollout of mass coronavirus testing despite saying last week that military assistance would not be available due to pressures on the service.
The “lateral flow” tests will give out results within 30 minutes and are similar to a pregnancy test.
KCC Director of Public Health, Andrew Scott-Clark said: “A local test and trace system, alongside mass testing, are significant undertakings and while they are an important part of managing the pandemic, it is not the solution and any testing needs to be alongside all the other public health measures such as social distancing, wearing masks and washing hands.
“We have been in a national restrictions for two weeks and those high figures from before lockdown are now starting to level off so we are encouraged that the majority of people are doing the right thing by minimising their social interactions at home and carefully following social distancing guidelines when they are out but it’s really important that we protect the most at risk people among our older residents and this needs to happen now if we want to see restrictions eased further.”
KCC and Medway Council lead on outbreak control plans for the county and continue to work closely with partners from central Government, the district and borough councils in Kent, the NHS and Public Health England.
Cllr Gough added: “We know that Kent’s hospitals are getting busier – not just from Covid cases but because of normal winter pressures – so we need to help the NHS too and the main thing people can do is to follow the national restrictions and self-isolate if they have symptoms or have been advised to self-isolate. If you have symptoms, book a test. Play your part to help protect Kent and Medway – more information at www.kent.gov.uk/protectkent”
Government dashboard data shows 110 positive tests reported yesterday for Thanet (November 25), making 753 in the seven days to that date. Unfortunately the dip in numbers has not been sustained and the rate is now up 3.9%.
Kent Public Health data shows Thanet is now at 477 cases per 100,000 people (as of November 22), down from 510.8 per 100,000 (as of November 16) Swale is at 530.4 which is also down from 647 on November 16, but both rates are far above the England average of 201.3.
The total number of people in Thanet who have had a confirmed positive test result is 3,538.
There were 18 deaths within 28 days of a positive test for Coronavirus reported for the week to November 25 for Thanet. The total number of people who have died within 28 days of testing positive for Coronavirus as of November 24 was 145. Covid-19 is mentioned on the death certificate but may not be the primary cause of death.