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Kent's Tier 2 hopes dented as coronavirus rates continue to rise

Coronavirus cases are continuing to rise across Kent - denting hopes of Tier 3 restrictions being lifted by Christmas.

A recent plateauing of weekly numbers across the county had appeared to pave the way for the Garden of England to drop into a lower tier when restrictions are reviewed in two weeks' time.

But figures released today show that trend has been bucked, with Kent's infection rate again on the rise.

There were 274 infections recorded for every 100,000 people in Kent in the week to November 13 - that figure had risen by just 1.5% a week later.

But on November 27 it had crept up again by 2.5%, as the number of new infections rose to 4,503.

Swale remains the worst-hit area, but it could soon be replaced by Medway, which now sits in second.

Rates in Ashford have jumped up by a third over the last seven days - despite falling the week before.

And in Maidstone it has leapt from 270 to 346 over the same period.

The rate in Canterbury, however, has continued to decrease - dropping 6% - while Thanet's has fallen for the second week in a row, by 6% in the seven days to November 27.

Downing Street has faced pressure from some Kent MPs to adopt a more localised approach so areas with the lowest rates are not penalised.

Seven met with the Prime Minister on Monday to voice their concerns, but it remains to be seen if their efforts will result in a change of direction on December 16.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock. Picture: Mark Westley
Health Secretary Matt Hancock. Picture: Mark Westley

In an exchange on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, health secretary Matt Hancock indicated more localised restrictions could be introduced.

Asked if tiers could be broken down "away from counties and metropolitan areas and into districts", he replied: "Of course we'll look at the country according to the epidemiology, according to the human geographies of where people live and work because that's how the virus gets passed on.

"For instance, from today, there are areas of the country that are in a county that need a higher level of restrictions, like Slough."

Presenter Mishal Husain interjected, asking: "That's exactly what people in Kent and Lancashire and other areas would like to see for them?"

Mr Hancock responded: "That's right, and where that's appropriate that's what we'll do."

"On December 16?", she pressed.

"Yes," the health secretary confirmed.

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