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Kent records second highest number of Covid cases in UK as masks become compulsory in shops

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In the week face masks became compulsory again in shops and on public transport, Kent has the second highest number of coronavirus cases among local authority regions across the country.

Nationally figures stand at 48,374 daily cases, as published on December 1, a leap of 4,698 daily cases since the same time last week - but still some way short of the spike in January this year which saw the daily case rate rise to 68,000.

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Regional figures for the most recent seven day period - recorded up to November 26 - show the south east has the highest number of cases - with 53,267 over the last week compared to 31,865 in London.

Within the south east, Kent had 8,192 cases over the same period, second only to Surrey with 8,461, followed by Essex with 7,779 West Sussex with 5,556, and East Sussex 3,681, while Medway recorded 1,452.

Within Kent, Ashford recorded 882 cases over the seven days, followed by Maidstone with 873, Canterbury 798, Tunbridge Wells 733, Tonbridge and Malling 725, Sevenoaks 639, Gravesham 516, Dartford 476, and Folkestone and Hythe 456.

Yesterday the Prime Minister announced that vaccination centres would 'pop up like Christmas trees' in an effort to counter the as-yet unknown impact of the Omicron variant.

Boris Johnson also said army personnel would be brought in to help support the drive to give millions of people aged over 18 a booster jab before the end of January.

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And while health secretary Sajid Javid admitted it was not known how effective current vaccines would be against the Omicron variant, he said it was "unlikely they would have no effect."

The latest updates combined with the figures make for grim reading, but death rates have dropped significantly since the introduction of the vaccine programme.

Nationally, daily death rates have fallen over the last month, from 175 on November 1, to 112 on November 25 - the most recent date with complete death rate figure - and figures are far lower than the spike of 1,359 deaths on January 19.

Vaccination stats show 80.7% of the population aged over 12 have had two doses of vaccine, while 32.4 have had a third dose or booster.

Total UK cases since the start of the pandemic have now reached 10,276,007.

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