Kent, controversially, entered Tier 3 restrictions after the November national lockdown, but sadly the latest figures and trends are vindicating that course of action.
In recent weeks, unfortunately, we have seen a marked increase in Covid-19 infections in Maidstone, which at last count had the 7th highest infection rate of any borough in the country. Inevitably, this rise in infections leads to an increase in hospital admissions. The number of people in hospital in Kent with Covid-19 is now doubling roughly every two weeks and, at the end of last week, this meant that over 40% of beds at Maidstone Hospital were occupied by Covid positive patients.
There is no doubt that our hospitals are under pressure and it is therefore more important than ever that we all play our part in getting the number of Covid-19 infections down by following the rules. We all have a responsibility to be aware, sensible and careful and to practice the basics of hands, face and space wherever possible.
The weeks ahead are going to be challenging, but I am confident that the new year will beckon better times for us all. It has been fantastic to see people beginning to receive their Covid-19 vaccinations in the last couple of weeks and this offers real hope. I know that Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust have a battle-ready plan to begin to deliver vaccinations as soon as they receive their first deliveries. This will begin with a seven-day mass vaccination clinic for trust staff and priority will also be given to older hospital patients.
Before too long, these amazing new vaccines will restore the precious freedoms we are so lucky to enjoy in the United Kingdom. In the meantime, I wish you, your loved ones and all readers of the Downs Mail a very merry Christmas.