Rise in patients with covid being cared for in East Kent Hospitals

Covid care Photo EKHUFT

The latest data published by NHS England shows a rise in the number of patients with Covid being cared for in East Kent Hospitals.

The trust had 227 covid patients as of December 8, a rise from 121 on December 1. This figure is for the main hospitals at Margate, Ashford and, to a lesser degree, Canterbury.

The data shows 18 mechanical ventilation beds in use for patients with confirmed positive covid tests.

The data does not record how many patients are in individual hospitals although a source informs The Isle of Thanet News that currently (week ending December 13) patients are QEQM 112, Ashford 98 and Canterbury 14.

The trust has recorded 618 covid related deaths across its hospitals since the pandemic began up to December 12 and recorded 47 covid related deaths between December 1-7. Data for December 8-12 shows 22 recorded deaths but NHS England warns figures for these dates could change as post mortem tests and data are validated.

Those aged 60 and over account for the largest loss of life nationally. In the south east a total of 290 deaths have been recorded where a positive test result for COVID-19 was not received but COVID-19 is mentioned on the death certificate.

Government data shows 70 new positive cases reported for Thanet today (December 13) making a seven day total of 573, down 11.4% on the preceding seven days. A total of 5,110 positive tests have been recorded for Thanet.

The rolling seven day rate per 100,000 people is 416.4 as of December 8.

One death within 28 days of a positive test has been recorded today, making 17 in the last seven days and 195 as of December 12 (loss of life within 28 days of a positive test). Covid-19 is mentioned on the death certificate but may not be the primary cause of death.

Thanet, which had the fourth highest covid rate in England in the week for 25 November to 1 December, is now 21st on the infection rate list for the UK. This is below Swale (4th), Medway (9th) Dover (14th) Maidstone (17th) Gravesham (18th) and Canterbury (20th).

The England weekly average rate per 100,000 people now stands at 173.5 (as of December 8) and the Kent rolling rate was 399.9 as of the same date, according to the government coronavirus map.

The figures are updated daily, although there is some time lag on some statistics. They can be found on the government dashboard here and here and on the KCC website here

Tier levels

Tier 3 closures

Despite the decline in rates for Thanet it is unlikely that Kent as a whole will move out of Tier 3 restrictions when this is reviewed by government on December 16 – meaning hospitality businesses such as pubs and hotels will lose any Christmas trade due to enforced closure or takeaway/delivery services only.

The government’s decisions on tiers is 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 (admissions, bed occupancy and staff absences)
  • local factors and exceptional circumstances such as a local but contained outbreak.

Kent and Medway Clinical Commissioning Group has opened more critical care beds for Covid patients.

A statement from the CCG says: “All hospitals across Kent and Medway continue to be under significant pressure due to the high rates of infection in the local communities.

“We have opened more critical care beds to support Covid-19 patients, and will be opening more. We’re continuing to provide cancer and other urgent operations. However, we are now pausing non-urgent elective services. This will allow staff to move to support the increased number of Covid-19 patients.

“Initially this will be for a two week period. We will keep this under weekly review and will contact individual patients where appointments need to be rescheduled.”

Asymptomatic testing

Military support MOD Crown Copyright

Military support will be used for asymptomatic testing in Thanet and Swale. This helps to identify those people who may have the coronavirus without symptoms and who are therefore potentially spreading it unknowingly within their families and local communities.

The first asymptomatic testing sites have been identified for Swale and Thanet and further sites are being investigated in other districts.

Lateral flow testing will help to reduce case numbers in those areas and get back to manageable levels of the virus, and place Kent in a better position to move out of Tier 3.

People without symptoms of COVID-19 will receive a lateral flow test. This is a swab test, but unlike PCR where a laboratory and specialist equipment is needed, the result is given within 30 minutes.

This testing is being funded by central Government to support local councils to manage the second wave of the pandemic.

Thanet currently has a walk-in testing site in Margate and a drive/walk in at Manston.


Kenneth Lamb receiving the vaccine from Kirsty Rison, Occupational Health Nurse at William Harvey Hospital (Photo EKHUFT)

The NHS began its vaccination programme with the Pfizer/BioTech vaccine last week.

People aged 80 and over as well as care home workers have been first to receive the jab, along with NHS workers who are at higher risk.

There were 50 hubs in the first wave – including the William Harvey Hospital in Ashford – and more hospitals have now begun vaccinations, including Medway.

GPs and other primary care staff are also being put on standby to start delivering the jab. A small number of GP-led primary care networks will begin doing so from tomorrow, including Montefiore Medical Centre in Ramsgate which is understood to be one of five selected in Thanet. More practices will be included on a phased basis during December and in the coming months.

UK infection rates (government data)

Merthyr Tydfil 787.4

Neath Port Talbot 764.7

Newport 651.7

Swale 646.3

Swansea 622.7

Caerphilly 619.1

Bridgend 618.8

Blaenau Gwent 608.3

Medway 604.9

Rhondda Cynon Taf 582.8

Basildon 562.5

Torfaen 510.9

Lincoln 505.5

Dover 478.3

Havering 470.8

Cardiff 465.2

Maidstone 460.9

Gravesham 460.1

Boston 421.8

Canterbury 419

Thanet 416.4

Ashford 389.1

Carmarthenshire 379.8

Folkestone & Hythe 378.8

Other Kent rates

Tonbridge and Malling 346.6

Dartford 310.8

Tunbridge Wells 232.5

Details of Covid attributed deaths data: NHS England and NHS Improvement publish the number of patients who have died in hospital and tested positive for COVID-19 in England.  Since Tuesday 28 April, NHS England and NHS Improvement also reports the number of patient deaths where there has been no COVID-19 positive test result, but where COVID-19 is documented as a direct or underlying cause of death on part 1 or part 2 of the death certification process. This change has been introduced for deaths that occurred on 24 April and subsequently.

This means the NHS England and NHS Improvement data collection provides information on all COVID related (suspected and confirmed) deaths in England hospitals.