Published: 18:57, 25 January 2021
| Updated: 19:16, 25 January 2021
The Covid-19 infection rate in Kent has fallen further and is now below the average for England.
Latest figures published today reveal weekly cases fell by 20.8% in the seven days to January 20, as the third national lockdown continues.
A total of 7,052 cases were recorded across the county as part of the latest the statistics made available, representing a decrease of 1,850.
It means both Kent with a rate of 419.1 cases per 100,000 people, and Medway with 1,381 cases at a rolling rate of 468.8, are both now lower than the average for England which stands at 472.9 cases per 100,000 people.
Seven–day rates are expressed per 100,000 population and are calculated by dividing the seven day count by the area population and multiplying by 100,000.
Outside of Medway, Gravesham continues to record the highest rate in the county at a rolling rate of 653.60 – although cases fell in the riverside borough by 21.1%, over the same time period.
It was followed closely by Dartford (600.3), which opened a new walk-in facility in the town centre today.
Elsewhere, Canterbury has the lowest rate in the county at 329.5, a fall of 28.7%. Ashford also recorded a 29.9% drop with a rate of 406.1 and Thanet, recorded a 23% fall with a rate of 450.2.
However, rates remain high in Folkestone and Hythe with a rate of 539.8, a drop of just 5.1%, ahead of the opening of a mass vaccination centre at a former Debenham store tomorrrow.
It comes as Health Secretary Matt Hancock today told a press conference now was "not the time to ease up".
"The pressure on the NHS remains huge and we've got to get that case rate down," he said.
The government minister said there were "early signs" the measures were working and claimed that the vaccine rollout had gained more speed, with close to 500,000 jabs administered on Saturday, the largest received in a single day to date.
Despite this progress, Mr Hancock urged people to carry on following social distancing, even after they have had the jab, and called on the nation to "hold its nerve and persevere through this difficult winter."
The stay at home message followed an earlier briefing in which the government’s chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said early evidence suggested the new UK variant could increase mortality by almost a third in men in their 60s.
His warning followed a briefing by scientists on the Government’s New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag) which concluded there was a “realistic possibility” that it was associated with an increased risk of death.
It was already known that the new variant was up to 70% more transmissible than the original - leading to a tightening of restrictions across the UK from late December onwards.