The number of people with Covid in Kent's hospitals has almost trebled in a month, new figures reveal.
There are currently 296 patients with the virus being treated in sites run by the county's four main health trusts - up from 103 on September 19.
It comes as case numbers in Kent have spiked, more than doubling from 712 in the first week of September to 1,803 in the seven days to October 15.
While many of those in hospital with Covid are not being treated primarily because of the virus, the logistics of keeping infected patients isolated is placing an added strain on healthcare staff.
Most are being treated at the county's largest trust - East Kent Hospitals - which has seen a 26% spike in Covid patients in the week up to Wednesday - a rise from 89 to 112.
A month ago it was treating just 28.
While Kent's three other trusts have also recorded monthly increases, patient numbers are now either stabilising or falling.
On September 19 there were just eight people with Covid at hospitals run by the Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells trust, but by October 12 this number had risen to 103.
Trust bosses reintroduced mandatory mask-wearing on October 12, before seeing a 34% fall in patient numbers - to 68 - by October 19.
The rise in total patient numbers over the last month comes as cases of flu have climbed quickly, suggesting the season has begun earlier than normal, say officials.
It is believed people may have reduced immunity to flu after a break from the disease during Covid pandemic restrictions.
The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) says hospital and ICU admissions for the respiratory disease are rising the fastest in children under five.
Hospital rates are going up among the elderly too.
Levels are still relatively low overall, but health experts are urging anyone who is eligible for a flu shot to get one.
Many southern hemisphere nations, including Australia, have just had their most rampant influenza season for years and officials have been warning that the UK must prepare for a big, early wave of flu too.
More than 40 million people, including young children, in the UK are being offered a flu vaccine.
The over-50s and younger adults with health conditions are also being offered a Covid booster jab this autumn and winter.
It is thought to have already played a part in seeing case numbers stabilise after the recent spike, but experts warn against complacency.
Dr Mary Ramsay, the director of public health programmes at the UKHSA, said: "Cases could rise again at any point and we need to be armed in readiness through vaccination of everyone who’s eligible.
“If you are feeling unwell, avoid contact with elderly people or those with underlying health conditions.