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Coronavirus Kent: Live updates on the impact of Covid-19 across the county

The number of people with coronavirus is rising every day with 11 cases now confirmed in Kent.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson chaired a Cobra meeting today and has now announced the next stage of the UK's action plan.

KMTV had a special programme answering your questions on Covid-19

The strategy could eventually force school closures, bans on public gathering and people who can will need to work from home but for now those measures have not been put in place.

For all of the latest follow our live blog.

Live updates

7.26am - new page

Thank you for following our blog on Thursday. We'll be bringing more updates on Friday here.

10.30pm - Headcorn

Headcorn Surgery has closed after announcing a member of its clinical team may have coronavirus. It will remain shut until Monday and the member of staff is in isolation.

7.30pm - pub or work?

How would working from home impact your business?

Can I go for a pint?

6.10pm - New case

An employee of Saga has tested positive for coronavirus.

5.30pm - Schools

The Kent School of English (KSE), which is based in Broadstairs and welcomes foreign students, says as of the weekend until earliest March 29 no pupils will be accepted.

Principal Andy Flaig said: "We understand this will affect a lot of people locally – staff, suppliers, hosts, voucher-takers and others - but this decision has been made with the local community’s best interests in mind.

"We will be keeping the situation under review and will act according to the advice we receive."

5.21pm - Joe Pasquale

Meanwhile in lighter news coronavirus is causing Higham comic Joe Pasquale to trend on Twitter.

5pm - 'Delay' phase

Boris Johnson announces anyone with mild fever symptoms should stay at home for seven days, and the government is advising elderly people with pre-existing conditions against cruises and advising against international school trips.

Schools will not close and for now big events will not be cancelled.

In the coming weeks whole families could be told to self-isolate if one member has symptoms.

"We are guided by science," he says.

He urges people to use NHS websites for advice rather than 111.

Medical experts say between 5,000 and 10,000 people in the UK could have coronavirus.

This is known as the "delay" phase of the NHS' four-stage strategy

4.50pm - New cases in Kent

There are now 11 cases in Kent and Medway, up from seven yesterday. There are still two in Bromley.

The four new cases are all in the Kent County Council area, with two remaining in Medway.

4.40pm - Travel

Travel agents in Kent have given their advice and what to do if you're planning to book a holiday and how their industry is coping.

4.33pm - Panic buying

Reader Chris Moffatt has spotted more evidence of panic buying in Tesco.

Here are the stripped shelves in Gillingham's Courteney Road branch previously home to pasta and goods that were being rationed to five per customer.

Shelves in Tesco Gillingham stripped bare. Picture: Chris Moffatt
Shelves in Tesco Gillingham stripped bare. Picture: Chris Moffatt

Meanwhile the Kent Autistic Society has cancelled tomorrow's open day "due to the situation regarding Covid-19".

4.21pm - Politics

Canadian PM Justin Trudeau is self-isolating after his wife returned from the UK.

Brazil has confirmed its president's communications secretary has coronavirus days after he met Donald Trump.

Scotland has banned all gatherings of more than 500 people.

3:37pm - Dover College

Dover College has cancelled its Whole School Open Day this Saturday because of the coronavirus pandemic.

It means the new headmaster Simon Fisher will instead meet parents at the independent school's summer term open day on Saturday, May 16.

Mr Fisher takes over the school in September, replacing Gareth Doodes after six years.

3:30pm - Dover

A spokesman confirmed services like bin collections continue to be delivered as usual.

He said: "We are working closely with Public Health England both locally and nationally to follow the guidance set by Government.Planning Committee is still due to go ahead tonight."

3:24pm - tennis

The association of tennis professionals has suspended the Men's tennis tour for six weeks, it has announced today.

3:04pm- North Thanet MP Roger Gale on Twitter

2:55pm - school teacher self-isolated

A school in Newington has kept parents aware of a teacher who had to self-isolate.

2:35pm - GP appointments

Doctors’ surgeries are planning to scrap routine appointments and check-ups should the coronavirus outbreak escalate as predicted.

Each practice in the Canterbury district has been sent protective equipment to keep staff who come into contact with suspected Covid-19 cases safe and help to minimise the spread of the disease.

Read more here.

2:27pm - latest statistics

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590 Covid-19 cases have been confirmed in the UK. Two more people have died taking the total to 10.

2:03pm - Swale council

A spokesman said: “We have been working with our partners in the Kent Resilience Forum to respond to the coronavirus outbreak.

“Services are currently operating normally and we are echoing Public Health England hygiene advice to our staff and our residents as this is by far the best way to reduce transmission.

“We already have our own well-tested business continuity plans for a range of scenarios including pandemics. We have been working for the last few weeks to make sure these are up-to-date. The plans are flexible and range from mild, low impacts on our services, through to severe and prolonged impacts.

“As with any incident like this, any changes to services will be shared with residents as soon as possible. People should regularly check our website www.swale.gov.uk, our social media accounts (Facebook and Twitter) and the local press for any updates.

“The best place to find information and advice about the coronavirus outbreak is www.gov.uk/coronavirus, which is updated regularly.”

1:54pm - more empty shelves

Empty shelves in Gillingham Asda
Empty shelves in Gillingham Asda

1:46pm - lambing cancelled

A popular Lambing weekend at a school in Cranbrook has been cancelled amid coronavirus fears.

The High Weald Academy says the decision has not been made lightly.

A statement on their website said: "As a result of the ongoing coronavirus situation, we have regrettably taken the decision to cancel The High Weald Academy’s 25th Lambing Weekend, which was due to take place on March 21 and 22.

"Our staff, students and members of the community who continue to support us by attending our Lambing Weekend every year are our top priority and we strongly believe this is the right decision in the current circumstances.

"To date, we have not had any reported cases of the virus.We recognise that some students, parents and carers may be worried. We would like to reassure our community that we remain vigilant and are monitoring the situation daily."

1:40pm - FTSE

The FTSE 100 is currently trading more than 7% down - the lowest it has been since 2012.

1:12pm - Google classrooms

Ken Moffat, head of Simon Langton boy's school, Canterbury
Ken Moffat, head of Simon Langton boy's school, Canterbury

Simon Langton Boys in Canterbury has created online lessons for pupils to use at home ahead of a government meeting this afternoon about its response to the illness.

According to a letter sent to parents feedback and advice will also be sent by staff to children over email and youngsters could be allowed to sit out lessons next week in order to complete coursework.

Read the full story here.

1:02pm - ski trip cancelled

The Folkestone School for Girls has decided to cancel its forthcoming ski trip to Italy.

1pm - AIMREC cancelled

The Ashford International Model Railway Education Centre (AIMREC) has decided to close for the next two weeks.

The centre, which displays model railway sets, is usually open every Saturday and Sunday in Elwick Place.

But it will close to visitors for the next two weekends as a 'precaution' due to the possible spread of the virus.

12:56pm - cruise ship gran

A gran who was stuck on a coronavirus-hit cruise ship off California is finally back home. Jackie Bissell arrived at 2am today and is expected to have a test for the illness today. She is showing no symptoms.

12:53pm - college rumours

Mid Kent College has dismissed rumours a student had been diagnosed with the virus. Bosses are due to meet this afternoon to discuss how to manage the situation if the government decides to order the closure of schools and colleges.

12:43pm - 'please keep donating blood'

Blood donations
Blood donations

A statement from NHS blood and transplant said: "We are well prepared to deal with new diseases and using our plans enables us to respond to a quickly changing situation.

"We are keeping up to date with the latest advice on the coronavirus situation and working with partner agencies to put in place all the necessary changes for the safe collection and supply of blood and blood products.

"We’re asking blood donors to keep donating as normal unless you feel unwell or have recently travelled to one of the countries listed below or been in contact with someone who has coronavirus. Regular donation is always essential, to make sure patients continue to get the blood they need."

Read the rules on donating blood here

12:40pm - travel agent advice

12:24pm - Folkestone Invicta

Folkestone Invicta.Picture: Andy Jones
Folkestone Invicta.Picture: Andy Jones

"We would like to reassure supporters that we are putting in place measures to help prevent the spread of the virus but need the full co-operation of our supporters and visitors.

"All our supporters and match day staff are asked to observe good hand hygiene practice and there will be hand wash and soap in all of our toilets within the ground and bar areas to assist this. Supporters are advised to bring hand gel with them if they have some, and - in addition we would advise that you refrain from shaking hands with other supporters and staff at the ground as this can transmit viruses very quickly.

"If you are elderly or have underlying health conditions, please refer to the latest Government advice before attending a game or event at the BuildKent Stadium. If you are in any doubt, call 111 for further advice.

"While there is currently no precedent to close, postpone or cancel games at this time, we continue to take advice from the FA and the Isthmian League. This guidance will be continually assessed and monitored, and further updates will be issued when appropriate. We are relying on everyone to play their part and be transparent about any potential level of risk. It will help you and help lower risks in the stadium on match day. Thank you."

12:18pm - Canterbury

Canterbury City Council spokesman Leo Whitlock said: "The council is following the latest developments on COVID19 extremely closely and will follow the latest advice emanating from Public Health England and the government.

"Our sole aim is to make sure we deliver the vital services our residents rely on while protecting the welfare of our staff.

"We have a wide range of tried-and-tested plans in place to cope with all sorts of disruption from heavy snow to pandemics.

"We are also working with those who deliver services on our behalf to make sure they have robust plans in place.

"As the situation progresses, we will endeavour to keep residents up to date."

12:14pm - volunteers needed

A care service compnay in Maidstone have begun preparing for coronavirus and asking people to help them.

Read the full story here.

12:01pm - medical school

How the medical school will look
How the medical school will look

The outbreak has forced the University of Kent's new medical school to cancel its look behind the scenes event.

Contractors Willmott Dixon was due to welcome local people to the Kent and Medway Medical School’s construction site in honour of national Open Doors week between 16 - 21 March.

11:55am - Dockside

Anthony Sutton, manager of Chatham's Dockside Outlet Centre, said: "We are working in a safe environment, ticking all the boxes and following all the guidelines from the government and Public Health England.

"So far, we have not noticed it being any quieter, but we are noticing an increasing feel of awareness."

11:53am - important information for those most at risk

11:48am - National update

Ireland is shutting its schools tomorrow because of coronavirus.

Colleges and childcare facilities will also close, the Prime Minister announced in the last hour.

11:45am - Local Government Association

Cllr Ian Hudspeth, Chairman of the Local Government Association’s Community Wellbeing Board, said: “Councils are aware that residents will have concerns for vulnerable family and friends if this virus spreads further.

"They have plans in place for every possible scenario, for example if large numbers of key workers are off sick at one time or schools are closed, or if extraordinary containment or delay measures are recommended by the Government.”

11:42am - Gilbert and Sullivan concert

Tunstall village hall
Tunstall village hall

A fundraiser for Tunstall Village Hall, in Tunstall, near Sittingbourne, due to have been held on Saturday, March 21, has been postponed.

The Gilbert and Sullivan concert has been rescheduled and will now be on September 26.

Organiser Pauline Panton said the event had been called off "very regretfully" because of the ongoing spread of coronavirus.

She added: "We usually have a hall full to bursting point for concerts like these, so felt it was the right move.

"People have been so good about it, saying we've made the right decision.

"Tickets already purchased will automatically be valid for the revised date."

11:39am - Cobra

Boris Johnson will chair a cobra meeting at lunchtime today.

For the latest coronavirus news and advice, click here.

Read more: All the latest news from Kent


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