The leader of Gravesham council has issued a stark warning to the public about the spread of Covid-19.
Cllr John Burden says people must take the virus seriously and follow the rules to stop the NHS becoming overwhelmed with cases.
His comments come after the councillor urged NHS England to "break their silence" about the strain on our hospitals.
He wrote to Gravesham MP Adam Holloway, asking him to contact health bosses who he believes are preventing senior doctors from speaking out.
Cllr Burden said many people did not understand the pressure created by Covid led to a strain on other aspects of care.
He said: "People need to realise this is a serious problem. It is not just about the number of Covid cases per 100,000. The more people you have going into hospital with Covid, the less hospitals are going to be able to do in terms of everything else we expect them to do. We need to stop people going into hospital with this.
"When you start realising that you or someone you love may not be able to get the help they need if they were in trouble or if they needed a hospital bed, they may not get it.
"The picture we are getting of hospitals is that they are really struggling.
"We need health professionals to come out and say it, not politicians."
Cllr Burden highlighted many people were not complying with the rules by not wearing a mask while shopping or not wearing it properly and not maintaining social distancing.
He said: "We need to get people to comply with the rules if we want to get the rates down.
"It is not a big ask, we are not asking people to do something horrendous, it is just about wearing a mask and maintaining social distancing.
"The government has a very simple message – hands, face, space – if we could get this message across then the Covid rate would drop. We need to get this message out there and people need to understand this is a serious issue."
Cllr Burden said he was choosing not to see elderly family members this Christmas and urged others to think about the risks.
He said: "I am not seeing my family as I don't want to put them at risk. This Christmas is going to be very different but my thinking is that I would rather have my relatives here next Christmas and the one after than worry about seeing them this Christmas."