The most optimistic hopes for an effective coronavirus vaccine to become available are reported to be at least a year away, and probably more. People I speak with in Maidstone & The Weald know that the effect of an extended general lockdown could be just as damaging as the virus itself, and largely accept we are going to have to learn to live with Covid-19 for some time to come.
We must therefore ensure that new infection cases are quickly identified and contained, which is the focus of the NHS Test and Trace scheme launched in Kent and across England last week.
Test and Trace means if we test positive for Covid-19 we will be contacted by an NHS employee within 24 hours and asked to share information about everyone we’ve recently been in contact with. They, in turn, will then be requested to self-isolate for 14 days, whether they are symptomatic or not.
Kent County Council are pivotal in the success of Test and Trace, being responsible for deploying testing capacity in potential high-risk locations such as workplaces, schools, housing complexes and care homes. The UK Government’s Joint Biosecurity Centre will be sharing data on the virus’ spread with KCC to help inform their planning and local response. This could include more stringent localised social distancing measures, but I remain optimistic that the common sense of our local people will avoid that necessity.
On a positive note too, at last, the local economy can commence a revival, starting this week with the car show rooms at Park Wood and Aylesford. The reopening of Maidstone’s Lockmeadow Market is planned for 13th June, hopefully followed on 15th June by all of our retail shops, from Maidstone to Staplehurst and to Cranbrook, provided always that appropriate social distancing measures are in place.