Published: 13:47, 02 March 2021
| Updated: 14:08, 02 March 2021
Just one area in Kent has seen an increase in cases this week as rates drop to their lowest levels since mid-October.
On the week ending February 24, Kent and Medway saw 1,078 new weekly cases, a drop of 16.5% from the previous week bringing the infection rate down to 57.96.
The last time weekly cases were this low was on October 19 - just five days after the tier system first came into force - when 1,032 were counted.
The lowest infection rate in the county can be seen in Canterbury at 33.3, with just 55 cases dropping by 16.5% in the last week.
Thanet has the highest infection rate at 75.4, with 107 cases dropping 2.7% in the last week, followed closely by Medway with an infection rate of 74.7, with 208 more cases dropping 2.3%.
Salmestone in Thanet is the only neighbourhood in Kent and Medway with an infection rate over 200 - with 309.9 per 100,000 people infected and 6 cases rising to 25 in the last week.
Despite having the third highest infection rate of 72.9, Gravesham saw the largest drop in the last week with cases falling by 35.5% to 78.
Tunbridge Wells was the only area in Kent to see a rise in the last week, but only by 1.7% bringing cases up to 59 and the infection rate up to 49.7.
Deaths are also dropping, with 43 counted in the week ending February 24 compared to 75 the week before - a drop of 42.6%.
Deaths have not been this low since November 11 when 44 were recorded.
From this Monday, March 8, all pupils will begin the return to school, outdoor after-school sports and activities will be allowed, and socialising in parks and public spaces with one other person will also be permitted.
As rates drop closer to the goal of 25 cases per 100,000 set out by Andrew Scott-Clark, director of public health in Kent last month, he warns against ignoring restrictions too soon.
The director added: “It is great that we are seeing numbers fall but we are getting to the point that even a small local outbreak in a workplace of community setting can make a big difference and this still causes us huge concern for the more vulnerable residents who are at risk of severe symptoms.
“We are revising our outbreak control plans in light of the government announcements and are working with partners across the system to ensure we are ready to manage the easing of restrictions carefully.
“We’d also urge residents to continue getting a symptom-free test at one of the 24 sites across Kent and following the guidance if found positive so they do not unknowingly pass the virus on.
"Until any of the changes outlined by the Government are in place, we advise people to still follow the current lockdown restrictions and remind them that Kent Police will be enforcing against unlawful gatherings.”
Even if we have to remain cautious a little longer, the good news is 35% of Kent adults have been vaccinated with as high as 40.6% being vaccinated in Folkestone and Hythe.
Meanwhile Kent hospital intensive care wards remain under "extreme pressure".
The Kent and Medway Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) said about 124 beds have been occupied by patients on February 15 compared to a "business of usual" 83 beds prior to Covid.
It means that emergency "surge beds" have been introduced to manage a growing demand for those who are seriously ill.
Kent CCG bosses will present a verbal update on the Covid situation to several councillors who sit on Kent County Council's (KCC) health scrutiny committee later this week.
Caroline Selkirk, who is the CCG's director of health improvement, said: "As the UK is faced with the prospect of living with Covid for the foreseeable future, protecting those who have been affected now and in the future is a priority."