Published: 09:09, 21 October 2020
| Updated: 09:34, 21 October 2020
Locking down Kent would be wrong and cause unnecessary economic damage to the county, according to the UK's deputy chief medical officer.
Professor Jonathan Van-Tam voiced his opposition yesterday to stricter measures that would threaten livelihoods in parts of the country least affected by coronavirus.
The leading scientist's intervention comes as figures from Public Health England show that the number of new cases in Kent last week stood at 889.
The numbers are much lower than in areas like Manchester and Liverpool , where the tightest restrictions are already in place or are about to be introduced.
Yesterday, a University of Kent virologist called for a national circuit-breaker lockdown to be imposed now.
But Prof Van-Tam told a briefing at Downing Street: “Pretty much everywhere in England is now heating up to some extent.
“We are trying to walk a very fine line between getting the virus under control in areas where it is out of control while incurring the minimum amount of economic damage in doing so.
“It is clear that in the areas where it is out of control, hard measures are needed.
“But do I think right now it is appropriate to insist on those similar hard measures in, for example, the South West of England or Kent, where levels of the disease are very, very much lower than in the north of England?
“To impose a national fire-break, no I don’t think that’s right and I don’t think that’s right with the epidemiological picture we are seeing or indeed consistent with the pressures that are seen in different parts of the health service across the country.”
Prof Van-Tam made the remarks after circuit-breaker lockdowns were introduced in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Calls for the stricter measures to be imposed in England have also been led by members of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage).
The infection rate across Kent and Medway combined is currently 47.8 - up 3% on the week.