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


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As around 550 schools across Kent close down "until further notice" it emerged the first person in the county has died of the coronavirus.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson yesterday revealed the first patient in the UK has begun testing new drugs as part of efforts to find a cure for the disease, which has now claimed the lives of 184 people in the UK.

KMTV gauge reaction to school closures

Education secretary Gavin Williamson earlier announced all schools will close until further notice - other than for the children of key workers or vulnerable pupils.

Follow our live blog to see how the day's events unfolded:

9pm

The Battle of Britain memorial, in Capel-le-Ferne is closing its visitor facilities and car park due to the coronavirus outbreak - officials say the clifftop site will remain open daily with access on foot via the pedestrian gate.

7.40pm

Political editor Paul Francis analyses what has been a tumultuous week...

"It has been a week which has seen politicians reaching for alternative words to convey the stark reality of the corona crisis and falling short.

"If anyone was still in doubt that the country is facing an unprecedented challenge, today confirmed it.

"The chancellor Rishi Sunak made an extraordinary pledge to pay the wages of millions of workers provided their employers kept them on the payroll.

"The proposal to pay 80% of wages up to a limit of £2,500 underlines just how serious a threat the coronacrisis is to an increasingly fragile economy.

"The latest step in the battle against the virus has seen the government effectively ordering pubs, clubs, bars and restaurants to pull down the shutters tonight for an indefinite period.

"The decision will have a huge impact on parts of the county - Canterbury for example - and is another blow to Kent’s tourism sector.

"No-one knows when the crisis will end and at what cost; the only certainty is that we are in for a very long haul before the country returns to any sense of normality.

"And it is that lack of certainty that is most pernicious and anxiety-inducing.

"The UK, like other countries, is moving to a lockdown that will fundamentally change the way we live and constrain everyday activities on an unimaginable scale.

"Unprecedented may have been over-used but there are few other ways of describing the crisis - and things may get worse before they get better."

7.15pm

Bus firm's pledge to get children of key workers to school amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

7.05pm

New restrictions for mourners at two Kent crematoriums in an attempt to protect staff and visitors.

6.30pm

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby calls on "hoarders and panic buyers" to think of vulnerable members of society.

5.50pm

5.30pm

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has told pubs, cafes, restaurants and gyms to close tonight "as soon as they reasonable can".

4.30pm

All events at the nature reserve at Dungeness have now been cancelled.

A spokeswoman for RSPB Dungeness said: "As of today, our visitor centre, hides and toilets will be closed until further notice.

"We have also cancelled our events programme up until the end of May (although we will review this regularly as the situation changes).

"Anyone who has booked and paid for an event will be notified today.

"Our car park and nature trails will be open to all visitors for free.

"We are asking people to stick to trails, only walk dogs on leads in the correct places and to maintain the social distancing guidelines of 2m away from others.

"The joy of Dungeness is that is a pretty remote area of Kent anyway, so we hope people will still venture out for some fresh air and to enjoy the amazing wildlife and being out in nature."

To get in touch with the reserve email dungeness@rspb.org.uk

3.45pm

The first person in Medway was died of the coronavirus.

James Devine, chief executive of Medway NHS Foundation Trust said: "Sadly, we can confirm that a man who was being cared for at Medway Maritime Hospital, and had tested positive for COVID-19, has died.

"The patient, who died on Thursday, was aged 64 and had underlying health conditions.

"His family has been informed and our thoughts and condolences are with them at this difficult and distressing time."

It comes as the NHS said another 39 people have died of the coronavirus, bringing the death toll across the UK to 184. All the patients were aged between 50 and 99 years and were said to have underlying health conditions.

1.49pm - queues for hand sanitiser

People have been queuing outside a factory to get their hands on anti-bacterial products during the coronavirus crisis. Read more here.

1.09pm

12.16am - home working

A new government online service will give people who have had to self isolate for seven days and are unable to work a sick note.

It's hoped this will reduce the pressure on doctors and prevent people needing to leave their homes.

12.09am - arrest in Isle of Man

A man's been arrested on the Isle of Man after he failed to follow the rules on isolating.

Earlier this week officials announced everyone arriving must shut themselves away for 14 days, regardless of whether they have symptoms.

Anyone who doesn't can face a fine up to £10,000 or three months in jail.

11.47am - cancelled events

Folkestone & Hythe District Council have cancelled all events on their land over the next months. This includes runs, bootfairs and musical performances. For all other ways the virus is affecting the Folkestone district, click here.

10.22am - Wetherspoons

The pub giant has seen a 4.5% drop in sales as people have been told to stay at home and not go to the pub. Chairman Tim Martin says he's working with employees, landlords and suppliers to "emerge from the situation in the best shape".

10.18am - tips to keep healthy

We've spoken to a sports therapist about ways to boost your immune system and keep healthy in this difficult time.

9.58am - Shepherd Neame

Directors at brewery giant Shepherd Neame will take a temporary 20% pay cut and suspend rent receipts to help licensees during difficult trading caused by coronavirus. Read the full story here.

9.23am - Lower Thames Crossing

A public consultation for a £6.8billion tunnel connecting Kent and Essex has been extended.

Highways England are giving people an extra week to have their say on the controversial Lower Thames Crossing (LTC) plans, due to the coronavirous outbreak.

Read the full story here.

8.40am - DFDS update

Passengers who have booked to travel on a DFDS ferry but wish to change their travel plans can rebook to a later date or cancel for credit. More information can be found here.

However, the planned sailing schedule is still taking place for those undertaking essential travel or trying to return home via its Dover to Calais, Dover to Dunkirk or Newhaven to Dieppe routes.

Passenger capacity has been reduced to make it easier for travellers to follow government advice on social distancing while on board.

In addition to providing a complimentary meal for all drivers, DFDS will now extend this to include all passengers until further notice. Due to the limited number of passengers onboard each crossing, DFDS has plenty of space to ensure guidance on social distancing can be supported. Outside decks are also open for use.

Kasper Moos, vice-president and head of short routes and passenger at DFDS, said: “We are committed to the safety and welfare of our passengers, drivers and crew whilst travelling with us and we will continue to do so during this difficult period.“We have taken every precaution advised by the World Health Organisation to protect the health of our crews and those who have essential journeys to complete.

“Our routes between the UK and France are an important trade link and we are maintaining our current sailing schedules to ensure that essential everyday goods can continue to reach shops and businesses.”

DFDS has put measures in place to prevent the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19), including:

  • Hand sanitiser dispensers are installed everywhere on the ship for use.
  • Ongoing extra touchpoint cleaning
  • Ships’ crew is subject to strict measures and hygiene requirements.
  • Ships carry a stock of masks to limit the spread of infection, if needed

8.15am - former doctors and nurses needed

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NHS England have written to more than 65,000 former doctors and nurses asking them to re-register to help fight the coronavirus outbreak.

Final year medical students and student nurses are also being offered temporary, fully-paid roles.

7.56am - EU asking for reduced quality

YouTube is expected to follow Netflic after the EU asked online platforms to reduce quality of their videos to help ease the pressure on internet service providers.

7.28am - quality Netflix

To ease the pressure on internet service providers as more people work from home, Netflix is going to temporarily reduce the quality of its videos.

7.26am - Southeastern update

Southeastern is reducing its timetable from Monday.It's hoped the move will help to delay the spread of the coronavirus but still help key workers get to their place of work.

Read the full story here.

6.58am - school closures

A list of key workers who will still be able to send their children to school from Monday has been published by the government. The full list can be read here.

This means that most children will be spending their last day at school today. We've put together this handy list to help you keep your children on top of their learning.

Travel bosses have also changed the way they work in light of the closures, with Stagecoach introducing their holiday timetables from Monday.

For the latest coronavirus news and advice, click here

Read more: All the latest news from Kent

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