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The places in Kent 'at risk' of Covid-19 lockdowns according to New Statesman research

Parts of Kent could end up in a local coronavirus lockdown, according to a "postcode checker."

There are already 60 areas across England and Wales, mainly in the north east and north west, facing bans on household mixing.

The Covid Symptom Study map highlights Swale as most at risk in Kent
The Covid Symptom Study map highlights Swale as most at risk in Kent
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But now the threat is moving south and Kent is in the firing line according to the New Statesman.

Using its "postcode checker" nine areas of the county are rated "high risk" for a lockdown including Ashford , Dover , Gravesend , Maidstone , Medway , Swale, Thanet and Tunbridge Wells .

This is based not just on the number of positive tests but also the week-on-week rise.

While the infection rate in Kent is far lower than places like Nottingham and Liverpool in some places it has more than doubled in recent days.

According to the New Statesman's analysis this puts these places at risk of the government's "whack a mole" measures to stop localised outbreaks in their tracks - these measures aren't brought on by any particular threshold being passed.

Read more: What is a local lockdown and how do they work?

The New Statesman's article also notes:"While it is useful to compare the number of confirmed cases on a local level, the data made available by the government does not include the number of tests carried out. This means that an increase in positive cases doesn’t necessarily mean an increase in disease prevalence; it could simply reflect an increase in the number of tests carried out.

"As such, these figures shouldn’t be read as a definitive measure of the prevalence of Covid-19 in a given area, but a guide to show which areas are approaching similar confirmed infection numbers to areas that have already been placed in lockdown."

According to another source, the Covid Symptom Study, Swale, which covers Sittingbourne , Faversham and the Isle of Sheppey , is at the highest risk in the south east. It has 52 confirmed cases which equates to 35 cases per 100,000.

Some put the cause down to the number of holiday parks on Sheppey, which are popular with Londoners and were allowed to reopen over the summer when lockdown restrictions were eased.

There has also been an anti-mask campaign launched in Sittingbourne and a number of coronavirus cases confirmed in the town's schools.

Wearing face masks on the Isle of Sheppey
Wearing face masks on the Isle of Sheppey

But the numbers of positive cases also coincided with the introduction of mobile test centres in Sittingbourne and Sheerness.

A Swale council spokesman said: "We have been working with partners across Kent, including Public Health England, Kent County Council and the NHS, since the pandemic began to stop the spread of coronavirus.

"We have worked with them to respond when cases occur, put measures in place to allow people to go out safely, and sharing government guidance with people and businesses to help make sure we are all doing everything we can to stop the spread.

“There has been an increase in the amount of testing available locally and we urge anyone with symptoms to book a test.

"As always, people should be regularly washing their hands, wearing a face covering and keeping their distance from others to help keep the number of cases as low as possible.

“Ultimately, it is up to all of us to do our bit to stop the spread, and protect our families, friends and neighbours.”

Questions remain as to the effectiveness of localised lockdowns. A lack of data means it is hard to say what impact, if any, tougher measures have on the rates in individual areas.

Local Lockdown Risks - New Statesman

AshfordHigh

Canterbury Moderate

Dartford Low

Dover High

Gravesham High

Maidstone High

Swale High

Tonbridge High

Tun Wells High

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