Increase in Covid infections but there’s no cause for alarm

Increase in Covid infections but there's no cause for alarm
Coronavirus Update

As the town emerged out of Covid restrictions earlier this month, positive tests for the virus have risen, but changes in how the data is compiled mean the borough is still among the safest areas in the South East – with not a single recorded death from the disease for more than three weeks.


At the beginning of June, Tunbridge Wells had the lowest rates for infection in the county, with just 162 people having tested positive for the virus.

But the latest figures from Public Health England show more than 468 people have now tested positive for coronavirus, which means around 396 people in every 100,000 have had it.

For infection rates per head of population this puts Tunbridge Wells behind Maidstone [379], Swale [354], Sevenoaks [308], Medway [384], and Tonbridge & Malling [265] – which has the lowest rates in the county.

Across the East Sussex border in Wealden, just 286 people in every 100,000 have had the virus.

But Kent’s health chief says the disparity between neighbouring districts such as Tonbridge & Malling and Wealden is explained by a number of factors, including the fact Tunbridge Wells has a hospital in the borough and its neighbours do not.

Director of Public Health at Kent County Council, Andrew Scott-Clark, told the Times that the way figures are collected changed on July 2, with tests in hospitals and NHS settings now being combined with tests in care homes and the wider community.

He said: “There are many different factors that can affect the infection rate of the virus in a particular area.

“These could include the age and density of the population, number of hospitals and care homes, the ability to self-isolate effectively, the levels of testing both in the community and hospital plus the numbers of commuters travelling to and from London.

“We work alongside other agencies to understand the factors contributing to the cases across the county.

“Testing is being ramped up and as a result we are likely to find more positive results because we know that some people can be infected with Covid-19, but not exhibit symptoms (asymptomatic cases).”

Across Kent, 7,918 have tested positive for coronavirus or 504 for every 100,000 people. More than 990 people in the county have died from Covid-19 – 131 of these at hospitals run by Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust.

But compared to other areas of the county, such as Ashford, where more than 1,320 people have tested positive for the virus  around one in every 100 people – West Kent remains among the safest places in the South East.

But Mr Scott-Clark said people should not be complacent.

“Although the numbers of confirmed cases in Tonbridge and Tunbridge Wells are currently low, we appeal to residents there to help protect their communities – social distancing is still vital to limit the spread of the virus and that’s why following Government guidance is still incredibly important to make sure that we keep ourselves and loved ones safe.

“So remember social distancing, use thorough and regular handwashing, and follow advice if contacted by the NHS Test and Trace system.”

The latest figures come just before the rule on wearing face coverings comes into force.

From Friday [July 24] all shoppers will have to wear a mask or other type of covering before entering any shops or supermarkets.

The rules apply to everybody above the age of 11, but there are exemptions for people with health conditions such as asthma or anxiety.

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