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Coronavirus Kent: Live updates on the impact of Covid-19 pandemic across the county


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The Department of Health has revealed another 569 people with coronavirus has died - while the government has set a new target of 100,000 tests a day by the end of the month.

These stats are as of 5pm last night, taking the total to 2,921.

Testing is going to be increased
Testing is going to be increased

They have also revealed that 10,657 people were tested yesterday.

In yesterday's press briefing, business secretary Alok Sharma said businesses will now benefit from £22 billion businessrates relief and local

authorities now have more than £12 bn to help businesses, he says.

"We will work with the banks so they can repay the favour of us stepping in to help them in 2008," he adds.

He concludes: "We have harder times ahead of us but together we will pull through."

Dr Yvonne Doyle from Public Health England says there has been a concerning rise in vehicle traffic.

There has also been a concerning three-day rise in new cases.

Mr Sharma says we are at 10,000 tests a day against a target of 25,000 while efforts are also being stepped up to increase PPE supplies.

Dr Doyle says the 25,000 test target is achievable.

Follow our live blog for today's coronavirus updates:

8pm - Clap for carers

Thousands have just applauded carers for the second week.

Kent expert says testing should have been stepped up earlier

5.30pm - 'We want 100,000 tests a day'

Health secretary Matt Hancock - himself struck down by Covid-19 for a week - is back to give today's briefing.

He says the rate of infection is currently doubling every three to four days, with 12,949 now in hospital.

"We will strain every sinew to defeat this virus once and for all," he says.

Yesterday 45 million pieces of PPE were delivered and today Public Health England has released new guidance on what medics should wear to protect themselves.

He reiterates £300 million has been provided to pharmacies and is writing off £13.4 billion of hospitals' historic debt.

He says the roll out of testing is "the fastest in history" but "unlike some countries we did not go in to the crisis with a huge diagnostics industry" and have had to build from a lower base.

He adds there is a shortage of "swabs and reagents" but the swabs issue has been tackled.

"The first priority of testing has to be the patients for which the result could be the difference between life and death and not NHS staff," he says.

He stresses some tests are just not good enough and in one case one he is being "urged to buy" was wrong on three of four occasions.

NHS staff testing is to be expanded, though, with new labs and testing sites to spring up across the country solely for NHS staff and their families.

To date just 5,000 of 550,000 NHS staff have it.

Currently there are 5.7% of doctors absent due to coronavirus.

He is now setting the goal of 100,000 tests per day by the end of the month - currently the capacity is 12,799.

"As the Prime Minister said 'mass testing is how we unlock the coronavirus puzzle'," he concludes.

National medical director Stephen Powis says we will still see "a high number of deaths for a few weeks yet until we start to see benefits from the measures we are taking".

5.15pm - In case you missed it

As we wait for health secretary Matt Hancock to hold today's press conference here are three stories from this afternoon:

3.02pm - BBC Bitesize overhaul

After the Easter holiday the BBC will overall the Bitesize and red button service to run daily school lessons for children off school to help parents finding it difficult to structure home schooling.

2.55pm - Kent death's reach 34

Two more people have died in hospitals with coronavirus, taking the total to 34.

2.49pm - Woman's plea for help for sister stuck in Fiji

A young woman has been left stranded in Fiji for nearly two weeks after not being able to obtain a flight home.

Emma Hough from Gillingham is currently staying in a hostel in the Pacific country after hitting several brick walls whilst trying to get safely home. Read more here.

Her sister Kerri has recorded this video.

2.35pm - NHS England statistics

A further 561 people have died at hospitals in England, including two more in Kent.

That figure includes all deaths reported yesterday but includes victims who passed away on a number of dates in the past week.

One victim died at either Maidstone or Tunbridge Wells hospitals and another within the East Kent Hospitals Trust.

Earlier, the Department of Health revealed there had been 569 more deaths in UK hospitals.

2.05pm - latest death tol from department of health and social care

1.40pm - More masks for workers

School staff, pupils and their parents are working with local firms to get much-needed protective equipment to NHS workers.

The design technology department at Tonbridge School has led the way on the project to produce face masks which are desperately needed by healthcare staff treating patients with coronavirus symptoms. Read more here.

1.28pm - The Open latest

Organisers of The Open golf championship have clarified their position following speculation the event has been postponed.

The R&A has today announced no final decision has been made over this summer's competition, which is due to be staged in Sandwich. Read more here.

1.05pm - Clap for Carers take 2

After such an amazing response last week, people are being encouraged to clap for careers on their doorsteps once again.

This is what happened last week:

12.27pm - Masks for William Harvey

A company that builds homes in Kent has donated personal protective equipment (PPE) to frontline NHS workers.

Staff from Persimmon Homes South East, based in Maidstone, gathered spare gloves and masks normally used on building sites and handed it over to doctors and nurses at the William Harvey Hospital in Ashford. Read more.

12.05pm - National Express cancelled

All coach services will be cancelled from midnight on Sunday.

Chris Hardy, managing director of National Express UK Coach: “We kept a limited coach network running to be able to help those individuals with essential travel needs but it is no longer viable to continue to do this.

“Passenger numbers continue to fall as the public rightly follow government advice to avoid non-essential travel. The decision to temporarily suspend all services is the right one based on the current unprecedented circumstances and I hope our passengers understand this.

“It is very clear that the critical thing we must do to protect our NHS and save lives is to stay at home. All journeys before Monday 6 April will be completed and we will ensure customers are not stranded but until further notice, we will not be running any services.”

11.38am - Is this beef too old to eat?

The Covid-19 lockdown has left many of us rummaging through cupboards and freezers in an attempt to cobble together a nutritious meal.

But a dad-of-two from Canterbury went a step further when he decided to cook a piece of beef that had been frozen for more than half-a-decade. Read more here.

11.11am - Community rallies

A pharmacist has praised the overwhelming community response which has seen volunteers sign up to take calls and even donate their premises to help.

Dr Sohail Karim, a director at Hempstead Pharmacy in Gillingham, says the practice had been buckling under the strain of "excessive demand" for prescriptions. Read more.

11.03am - The diary of a shop worker

What is it like working on the frontline in a shop during the coronavirus scare?

How do you cope with angry members of the public shouting in your face because they can't have what they want?

The manager of a Tesco store has shared her experience on working on the frontline.

10.24am - Posties on strike

Royal Mail workers have walked out in protest against the company's lack of safety measures to protect them from coronavirus.

Staff at the Chatham Delivery Office – where 132 people are based – agreed to take action this morning. Read more here.

9.55am - Lawyer comments on British Airways plans to suspend 36,000 workers

Julie Goodway, employment lawyer at an independent regional law firm Thomas Mansfield said: "British Airways’ actions are unsurprising given the impact of the pandemic on their services. The staff are being asked to take furlough leave which will mean that they receive up to 80% of their salary, capped at £2,500 while they are not working. It may be better for the staff to take this as the other alternative could be redundancy. Nonetheless this is a difficult time for employees.”

9.30am - Pubs on wheels

Staff at a pub which is closed because of the coronavirus have got to work delivering meals to self-isolating neighbours.

The kind-hearted team at the Portobello Inn in West Kingsdown near Sevenoaks began ferrying fresh food to homes in the community before lockdown was imposed, sensing that some older people were struggling to get the supplies they needed amid outbreaks of panic buying. Read more here.

9.07am - Shave for charity

An Aldi supermarket worker has shaved his head to help raise much-needed funds for a mental health charity.

Christopher Philpott, who works at the bargain chain's Herne Bay store, has his locks removed in support of the Maidstone and Mind-Kent branch of Mind. Read more here.

8.45am - Family denied 'really big' church funeral for mum

The heartbroken family of an award-winning quilter has had to scrap plans for a church funeral and instead hold a small graveside gathering as a result of the coronavirus.

After Rosemary Marozzi, from Wingham near Canterbury, died on March 12, it was hoped that dozens of loved ones would fill St Vincent’s in Littlebourne to pay their respects.

But following the government-imposed lockdown, the Church of England announced that ceremonies can only take place at crematoriums or gravesides with immediate family in attendance.

This has reduced the popular 81-year-old’s funeral to an interment that will only be attended by her three children and their partners on Monday, April 6. Read the full story here.

8.25am - Clap for our carers

Residents are once again being asked to go to their windows and doors this evening to applaud the NHS.

Organisers are hoping to replicate the success of last week's event, which honoured the work of those fighting the outbreak of Covid-19.

8.10am - Addiction charity speaks about adapting to lockdown

An addiction charity is buying mobile phones for some of its most deprived clients and considering delivering essential medication for those in self-isolation.

These are just some of the measures Change, Grow, Live (CGL), an organisation with hubs in Kent which usually relies on face-to-face contact, is introducing after the government barred people from leaving their homes, with only a small number of exceptions given.

There are currently 924 people receiving treatment from the drug and alcohol wellbeing service run at the charity's Maidstone, Tunbridge Wells and Gravesend sites, which can involve being prescribed medication as well as being psychologically assessed and supported.

A recovering alcoholic from Kent has spoken to KentOnline about his own experience in isolation, the value of a close support network and fears for those who have not long left the bottle behind.

8.00am - Testing to be increased

The Prime Minister has now admitted that the number of coronavirus tests must be increased.

Speaking in a video released last night, Boris Johnson said the figure needs to "massively ramp up".

He stated that this would "unlock the puzzle" and help "defeat it in the end".

This came after the country's biggest increase in the number of Covid-19-related deaths, where the total rose by more than 500 to 2,352.

7.45am - Farmers talk epidemic impact

The coronavirus outbreak has adversely affected those growing produce to sell.

Farms of all sizes have been adapting to a new way of life, trying to cope with the increase in demand for food and the challenges the virus has posed for their workforces and how they do business.

Robin Betts, of Winterdale Cheesemakers in Wrotham, says he has had to change the way he operates.

7.35am - Dad using hobby to make protective equipment for key workers

A 3D-printing enthusiast from Thanet has turned his hobby into a lifeline by printing visors for people classed as "key workers" during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Phil Hathaway, from Ramsgate, found himself out of work due to the ongoing crisis, and decided to help in any way he could.

And after stumbling across a video on YouTube showing how to use a 3D printer to make a cheap protective visor, he got to work creating his own. Read the full story here.

7.25am - 'Grave decisions' for doctors

Fresh advice has been published for doctors outlining some of the "grave decisions" they may have to make during the outbreak.

The British Medical Association suggests dwindling resources could mean that treatment could be withdrawn from patients and instead offered to those more likely to survive.

7.10am - Rise in benefits claimants

The number of people signing up for Universal Credit has risen increased ninefold as the pandemic continues to impact the economy.

New figures have revealed that almost 950,000 have applied for the benefit in the last two weeks.

For the latest coronavirus news and advice, click here

Read more: All the latest news from Kent

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