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


The government announced yesterday it was opening a temporary hospital to combat the increasing spread of coronavirus across the nation.

It has also called on a quarter of a million volunteers to join the effort.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: "The NHS volunteer response is a new scheme set up so that people can come and help and to make sure the NHS and local services get all the support they can."

The temporary hospital will be called NHS Nightingale and will open next week at the Excel centre in London and will have two wards, each with the capacity for 2,000 people, and will enlist the help of the military and NHS clinicians to make sure each person with the virus is being treated.

The Department of Health and Social Care have said sadly 422 patients who tested positive for coronavirus have now died in Britain.

Follow our live blog for today's coronavirus updates:


Organisers of one of the largest free street festivals in the south east have announced "with great sadness" their decision to postpone this year's event.

Due to the ongoing coronavirus crisis, the annual Faversham Hop Festival will now not take place.


From next week the spending limit for contactless card payments in Kent will be increased from £30 to £45.

The increase will begin on Wednesday, April 1, when it will be rolled-out nationally, UK Finance has announced.

The changes were already under consideration by the industry, but the process has been accelerated in response to the COVID-19 outbreak to support consumers who choose to pay using contactless at this time.


Hospital bosses are tightening visiting restrictions even further as the NHS battles to reduce exposure to the coronavirus.

This afternoon Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust has announced stringent new rules which state that from tomorrow no visitors will be permitted except in a number of extremely limited circumstances.


The government has today announced more than 400,000 people have come forward to volunteer for the NHS in the fight against Covid-19.

Yesterday, Health Secretary Matt Hancock called for a quarter of a million volunteers to help health services up and down the country.


A heavily pregnant mum-of-three "fighting for her baby's life" after contracting coronavirus has shared a heartbreaking video from her hospital bed.

Struggling for breath, Karen Mannering, from Herne Bay, fights back tears as she tells how she has been ill for two weeks and now has pneumonia in both of her lungs.


Hospital parking charges for exhausted NHS workers on the frontline of the fight against coronavirus have been suspended for two months.

The East Kent Hospitals Trust has today told staff they will not have to pay to park as they ready themselves for a predicted influx of Covid-19 patients.


Inmates locked up in the county's prisons could be handed an early release as efforts step up to halt the spread of coronavirus.

Justice Secretary Robert Buckland’s announcement followed lockdown of Kent's jails, in a nationwide sweep to bring prisons in line with social distancing rules.


People will soon be able to conduct coronavirus antibody tests at home with finger prick kits which will be available from Amazon and Boots, MPs have heard.

Professor Sharon Peacock from Public Health England (PHE) told the Science and Technology Committee that 3.5 million tests had been bought and would be available in the near future.

She said the tests would also allow key workers, like doctors and nurses and police to go back to work if they have developed antibodies.

Prof Peacock, director of the National Infection Service, said a small number of tests would be tested in a laboratory before being distributed via Amazon and in places like Boots.

She added: "Once we are assured that they do work, they will be rolled out into the community."

3.02pm - The Grand Burstin Hotel in Folkestone is closed.

A message on the hotel's Facebook page reads: "Due to government restrictions the hotel is now closed until at least the end of April.

"I'm sure you all understand and we look forward to welcoming you all back in the future.

"Stay safe everyone and listen to the advice!"

2.59pm - stuck in Manila

An NHS nurse is desperately trying to get a flight back to the UK after being stranded in the Philippines amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Lorenzo Gacuma, an intensive care nurse at Tunbridge Wells Hospital, flew into the capital city Manila on Saturday, March 7, before travelling to Bacolod City to celebrate his grandad's 90th birthday. Read more here.

2.53pm - Dungeness Estate closed

2.03pm - National League changes

The National League have told clubs they don't plan to complete the 2019/2020 campaign due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The league last staged fixtures on March 14 before following the stance of the Premier League and suspending all games until April 3. Read more here.

1.50pm - Brexit delay?

The haulage industry is petitioning government urgently to seek an extension to the current transition period for leaving the European Union. It also wants the government to suspend other planned domestic legislation which will impact the logistics sector.

“This is not about the relative merits of Brexit, or any trading arrangements which our industry will need to adopt,” explains Elizabeth de Jong, Policy Director at FTA. “This is purely and simply so the businesses tasked with keeping the UK’s supply chain intact can concentrate on the serious issues which the COVID-19 pandemic is placing on the industry."

12.47pm - Marlowe extends its closures

Kent's biggest theatre has extended its closure by two more months. Read more here.

12.33pm - PMQs is underway

12.30pm - Kent County Show cancelled

Organisers of one of the county's biggest summer events have taken the "extremely difficult" decision to cancel.

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, the 2020 Kent County Show will now not take place. Read more here.

11.13am - off-licences can say open

Off-licences have been added to the list of shops allowed to stay open during the coronavirus pandemic.

Stores selling alcohol, including those in breweries, are now exempt from the mass closures in the retail sector.

They join pharmacies, supermarkets, hardware stores and petrol stations on the list of "essential" businesses.

10.36am - Prince Charles has Covid-19

He is self isolating at his home in Scotland.

A statement from Clarence House said: "He has been displaying mild symptoms but otherwise remains in good health and has been working from home throughout the last few days as usual.

"The Duchess of Cornwall has also been tested but does not have the virus. In accordance with government and medical advice, the Prince and the Duchess are now self-isolating at home in Scotland.

"The tests were carried out by the NHS in Aberdeenshire where they met the criteria required for testing."

10.23am - MOT exemptions

Read more about the government's announcement on MOTs and driving tests here.

9.30 am - Hythe Imperial Hotel has now closed

The seafront hotel is closing for three weeks. A statement reads: "The health, safety and wellbeing of our team members and guests has, and will always be, our number one priority. We have closely been monitoring the unprecedented circumstances we have all recently found ourselves in and adhering to the government guidelines set out.

"It is considering this that we have made the decision to temporarily close the hotel for 3 weeks following the directives given for everyone to stay at home and only venture out if necessary and to maintain a safe distance when in public.

"It is with a heavy heart and great sadness that I write this as I understand the impact and disappointment this will have on many of you but as a hotel, we believe this is the right step to take and will continue to monitor the situation and look to reopening as soon as we are given the go ahead."

This means all stays, weddings and tribute events have been postponed.

9.25am- MOT exemptions

8.51am - studies suggest half the population could already have Covid-19

Half the population could already have the coronavirus, according to a new study.

Researchers from the University of Kent in Canterbury are now helping gather evidence to test the theory, developed by colleagues at Oxford. Read more here.

8.14am - how you can be a volunteer for the NHS

170,000 people have already signed up to help the NHS cope with the coronavirus outbreak. Find out how you can join them here.

7.52am - fears over medication

A mum who campaigned for a life-changing drug to be made available on the NHS is now concerned about its supply during the coronavirus lockdown.

Carlie Pleasant from Sittingbourne was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis as a young child and fought a long battle to get access to Orkambi. Read more here.

7.28am - morning round up

Pictures of packed trains and tubes have sparked calls on stricter rules from the government to protect workers.

British Transport Police are due to patrol the networks to remind passengers to only travel if necessary.

There are also calls to close construction sites. Matt Hancock has said builders are among those who can work if they keep two metres apart at all times

Joe Coshan reported on the problem with this on KMTV last night.

And firms will get an extra three months to file their accounts because of the disruption caused by coronavirus.

Up to 4.3million businesses are eligible to ask for the extra time.

For the latest coronavirus news and advice, click here

Read more: All the latest news from Kent

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