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Covid-19 patients up to March level in Kent amid warning of waning immunity


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The number of patients with Covid at Kent's hospitals is the highest its been in eight months as the government seeks to step up the booster jab programme and doctors warn immunity is waning.

East Kent is caring for 60 patients across its three sites, the most since March, while Medway Maritime is caring for 33 people, the most since September.

Covid patient numbers in hospital in Kent are at the highest since March Picture: iStock
Covid patient numbers in hospital in Kent are at the highest since March Picture: iStock

Across the county there are nine people on ventilators, the same number as there was just over two weeks ago, but the total number of patients has shot up from 77 to 185. It's also up by more than 20 in a week.

Kent's three other hospitals, Maidstone, Tunbridge Wells and Darent Valley haven't seen a notable rise in Covid patients.

The number of seriously ill people in hospitals has stayed reasonably low and stable since the vaccine became available.

But yesterday UK Health Security Agency, Dr Susan Hopkins, said that may start to change.

Elderly and vulnerable people who are double vaccinated have started dying, as the immunity provided by the vaccine reduces over time, she said, adding: “We’re still seeing deaths in mainly the unvaccinated population, but increasingly, because of immune waning effects, there are deaths in the vaccinated group as well.

“It is particularly the older age groups, so the over-70s in particular, but also those who are clinically vulnerable, extremely vulnerable, and have underlying medical conditions.”

After a spike, reflected in the delayed rise in hospitalisations, cases are falling across the UK and Kent mirrors that trend.

But three parts of the county have seen a rise in infections.

Thanet (+18%), Swale (+17%) and Folkestone & Hythe (+13.8%) all saw increases in the week to November 2.

Overall cases fell by 10.3% to 5,800 in Kent and by 22.7% to 832 in Medway.

The number of patients on ventilators has stayed relatively stable Picture: Getty Images/iStock
The number of patients on ventilators has stayed relatively stable Picture: Getty Images/iStock

That means new infections are at the lowest level for two months.

Cases are highest among school children but there is also a spike among 35 to 54 year olds.

There is typically a delay in rising infections being reflected in hospital admissions.

The number of seriously ill people in hospitals has stayed reasonably low and stable since the vaccine became available.

Across the county there are nine people on ventilators, the same number as there was two weeks ago, but the total number of patients has shot up from 77 to 185.

Across Kent and Medway there were 12 deaths in the past week, down on the 17 recorded two weeks ago and the lowest number since September.

Nationally cases and deaths are dropping but hospitalisations are up.
Figures for booster jabs at a local level are not yet available but nationally 10 million eligible people (over 50s and those classed as vulnerable) have had one.

The milestone was hailed by Boris Johnson and health secretary Sajid Javid amid the lingering threat of Christmas restrictions but it still leaves 30% of over 80s and 40% of over 50s yet to receive it.

Mr Javid said that if “we all come together and play our part” then the country can “avoid a return to restrictions and enjoy Christmas”.

He later said: “We know immunity begins to wane after six months, especially for the elderly and the vulnerable, and booster vaccines will top up their protection to keep people safe over the winter.

“I strongly urge everybody who is eligible for a Covid-19 booster or flu vaccine to take up the offer as soon as you can.”

A booster could soon become a travel requirement.

For the latest coronavirus news and advice, click here.

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