Published: 16:30, 13 November 2020
| Updated: 13:48, 14 November 2020
Hospitals in Kent are treating 10 times more coronavirus patients than a month ago - with deaths in November already higher than those for the whole of October.
New data shows a soaring infection rate across the county has led to a significant increase in the number of beds occupied by people with coronavirus.
On October 5 there were just 14 patients in Kent's hospitals, but by November 5 - the first day of the second lockdown - this figure had risen to 142.
The number needing a ventilator increased from 0 to 10.
Worryingly, figures released by individual trusts suggest the number of patients with coronavirus has continued to rise significantly in the days since.
NHS England this week published a monthly round-up of localised statistics covering the period up to November 5.
On that day it said Medway Maritime Hospital had 53 coronavirus patients, but the trust itself confirmed on Tuesday (Nov 10) this number had risen to 95.
Meanwhile, East Kent Hospitals said on Monday (Nov 9) it had 48 patients with Covid-19 - up from the 27 reported by NHS England on November 5.
Figures on Covid-19 hospital deaths, however, are updated daily by NHS England for each Trust in the country.
They show that 46 people died with the virus in Kent's hospitals in the first 12 days of November - nine more than the total for the whole of October.
Medway Maritime Hospital accounts for the majority of November's deaths, recording 28, followed by East Kent Hospitals with 12.
At the same time as Covid-19 patients and deaths are rising in the county, so is the number of healthcare staff off work because of the virus.
On November 4, figures show 363 employees were forced to miss work for Covid-related reasons - mainly through sickness or self-isolation.
This is number is 77% higher than on October 4.
The impact of the second wave on the NHS in Kent is being felt amid a huge spike in Covid-19 cases across the county.
Figures show there were 2,875 positive tests in Kent in the week up to November 7 - a rise of 58.4% on the week before.
In the same week, 591 people tested positive in Medway - an increase of 48.5%.
The combined weekly total for the regions is almost 3,000 more cases than the month before.
But while infection rates are much higher than during the first wave - largely due to increased testing - the number of people becoming seriously ill with the virus remains comparably low.
Hospital patient numbers were 570 on April 20, compared to 142 on November 5.
The number of those on a ventilator hit a peak of 92 on April 16, but this month stood at 10.
And while 19 people tragically lost their lives with the virus in the week up to November 5, this figure is well below the highest weekly total of 187 at the start of April.
Staff absence also remains comparably low, with 2,192 employees off work because of the virus at the peak of the first wave.
Speaking on Monday, Wilf Williams, who is in charge of the NHS response to coronavirus across the county, said: “At this point we’re in a relatively good position in Kent and Medway, but the number of hospital admissions for Covid patients has increased and we expect that to continue in the weeks ahead.
“We certainly can’t be complacent and we would urge the public to play their part.
“We need infection rates in the community to decrease, as we know that hospital admissions follow a trend that is a few weeks behind infection rates in the wider community.
“In mid-April, we had to rapidly convert other space such as theatres and recovery areas, which meant other treatments had to be stopped, but we are doing everything we can to avoid that happening again.
“Our aim is very much to keep treatment going for both Covid and non-Covid patients.
“We now have a better understanding of Covid-19 so can treat the virus more effectively with more appropriate drugs.
“We therefore do not expect as many patients will need to be put on ventilators this time around.”