*Information used in this update is correct as of end of day, Monday 7th December*
Following my statement on the initial decision to place Kent into tier three, I wanted to provide an update on the latest figures I have seen re: COVID infection rates, and hospital capacity.
The picture I am afraid, is not good overall. The headline infection rate for Sevenoaks is currently at the same level it was when I published my last update, 159.8 per 100,000, which is uncomfortably high and above the national average, coupled with which our surrounding districts have seen a sharp increase. Below are some more key facts on infection rates:
- Sevenoaks currently has a case rate of 159.8 per 100,000 – although some northern parts of the district are seeing higher levels.
- Knockholt, Shoreham and Dunton Green have a case rate on 210.9
- Swanley East and Hextable have a case rate of 236.4
- We have seen 193 cases in the last 7 days
- In wider Kent, Swale remains the worst affected area in England, with an infection rate that has climbed to 607.7 per 100,000
- Medway also remains in the top 3 nationwide
- Across Kent the case rate is 372.9 per 100,000 and has recorded 5,897 positive cases in the last seven days
- Every district in Kent, has a rate above the national average of 158.3 per 100,000, Tunbridge Wells has climbed to a rate of 200.5 per 100k - it was 113.7 per 100k when I last updated you two weeks ago
- 4 people from Sevenoaks very sadly died during the week ending 27th November.
Our local hospitals remain under intense pressure. Winter is obviously a very busy time in any event, but the extra strain brought by COVID patients, plus beds having to be removed to keep areas COVID secure and increased staff absence rates due to COVID, make this a very difficult period. Non urgent elective operations have been cancelled locally at both of our hospitals. These are the specifics:
- There are 803 patients in hospital across Kent and Medway with Covid 19; 52 of those in critical care beds. To put this into context on 25 November there were 480 Covid patient in hospital, of which 29 were in critical care
- Darent Valley and Pembury hospital are both operating at 95%, and the leadership of both have independently told me they are under significant pressure, which is incomparable with winters in previous years
- At Darent Valley:
- They currently have over 100 Covid patients, and are at the highest state of alert
- 100% of their adult bed base is full and whereas they were previously able to help out other hospitals, they are currently unable to do so
- All routine operations have now been cancelled
- At the Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells Trust, which has two sites at Pembury and Maidstone:
- They currently have 180 COVID patients (double their first wave peak of 94)
- While two weeks ago they had closed 5 out of 20 operating theatres, the situation has since deteriorated and all elective operations have been cancelled this week and quite possibly next week as well
- They are also currently facing increased staff absences, due to the virus. They would normally expect this to be at 3% at this time of year, whereas it is currently at 7%
- Following feedback from my initial statement, I have also been in touch with the Princess Royal hospital, as while outside of Kent I am aware many constituents use this. They have confirmed they are also at 95%
I am very sorry not to bring you better news. Hope is on the horizon however, mass testing is being rolled out in Kent, including in our secondary schools, and Darent Valley will be one of the next hospitals to receive the vaccine. Until that point, all the action you are taking to keep you and your families safe will make a real difference to helping our hospitals, and shortening this extremely difficult Tier 3 status.
I am of course, in constant communication with our hospitality industry which has been so hard hit and needs even greater financial support, and many others who have been very badly affected by the restrictions. If you need help then, as ever, please get in touch, and I will provide a further update to you all next week.