Published: 11:42, 19 February 2021
| Updated: 11:43, 19 February 2021
Pressure on Kent's hospitals is easing fast as the number of patients with Covid-19 falls below the first wave peak for the first time in three months.
NHS data shows there are now 440 people in our hospitals with the virus - almost a third of the pandemic high of 1,218 on January 4.
Significantly, it is the first time since November that the total has fallen below the April peak of 534.
In the last week alone patient numbers have fallen 20%, from 550 to 440.
Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells has recorded the fastest decrease, dropping by almost 80% in a month from 252 patients to 56.
It is hoped the significant improvements will pave the way for the return of planned operations - such as hip and knee replacements - which have been postponed since the end of last year.
But details on when that could happen have not yet been released.
Wilf Williams, the strategic lead for the NHS response to coronavirus in Kent and Medway, said: “As cases in the community have fallen we have seen the number of Covid patients in hospitals decreasing.
"Our dedicated staff continue to work extremely hard to provide the best possible care to all patients but we are urging people to carry on following the rules by staying at home as much as possible, wearing a mask and keeping a safe distance from others.
"Hospitals are still coping with winter pressures as well as Covid so we need everyone to continue to play their part.”