Published: 10:00, 07 May 2020
| Updated: 10:20, 07 May 2020
The coronavirus pandemic in Kent has likely passed an initial peak, new figures suggest.
As lockdown restrictions look set to be eased from Sunday, the number of people dying in the county each day from Covid-19 continues to fall.
Confirmed cases have also dropped significantly, signalling an apparent turn in the tide against the deadly virus.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson last week said the UK was "past the peak" of the virus outbreak, but stressed the country must not "risk a second spike".
The death toll in the UK has since risen above 30,000 - the highest in Europe.
In Kent at least 828 have lost their lives, with that number set to rise when figures for non-hospital deaths in the last two weeks are released.
But analysis of the data by KentOnline suggests a peak of the virus - in terms of deaths and confirmed cases - has passed.
In the week leading up to April 10 a total of 231 people died in Kent, with 35 tragically losing their lives in the single deadliest day at the county's hospitals.
But in the fortnight that followed the weekly death toll dropped to 208, and then again to 171.
At the same time, the number of people in Kent testing positive for Covid-19 dropped from a peak of 207 a day on April 17 to fewer than 40 a day last week.
The numbers in Kent largely follow a trend seen across the UK, which is likely to inform any decisions taken on how lockdown restrictions can be eased.
The Prime Minister is set to review social distancing measures today, but is not expected to unveil plans for a "roadmap" out of lockdown until Sunday.
It is thought he will set out a "menu of options" on how this can be achieved, with the reopening of schools and businesses likely to be among the most pressing issues.
On Sunday, cabinet minister Michael Gove warned that people would have to live with “some degree of constraint” until they can be immunised against the deadly disease.
On the same day it was announced a contact-tracing app - alerting people when they come into contact with someone who has coronavirus symptoms - would be trialled on the Isle of Wight this week.
The number of people dying of Covid-19 in Kent's hospitals looks set to fall below 10 a day for the first time since the end of March.
Latest figures show that a steady decline in deaths seen recently across the county's four hospitals trusts is continuing.
At its peak, the daily death toll hit 35 on April 7, with 172 people losing their lives in a week.
This number fell to 126 on April 17 and then to 95 a week later, with figures suggesting it will have fallen to below 70 by May 1.
Eleven new deaths were recorded by NHS England yesterday, increasing the total in Kent's hospitals to 587.
A third have been reported by the east Kent trust, which runs acute hospitals in Ashford, Canterbury and Margate.
On March 2 the first case of coronavirus was confirmed in Kent, with more than 4,000 people in the county testing positive since.
But figures released by Public Health England (PHE) suggest the peak of cases has now passed.
At the start of last month the numbers testing positive each day jumped to 207 on April 17 - the highest recorded.
But in the week that followed, the average daily total fell to 143, before dropping again to 114 and then to 36 by May 1.
A total of 4,565 people have now tested positive for Covid-19 in the county - 654 of them in Medway.
More than one in five deaths from Covid-19 in Kent occurs in a care home.
Latest figures reveal 164 people died from coronavirus up to April 24 while living in such facilities across the county.
Most have been recorded in Thanet, with the 25 people dying in care homes accounting for a third of those who have died from Covid-19 in the district.
There is a stark difference across Kent in the proportion of coronavirus deaths occurring in care homes.
They account for less than 10% of deaths in both Gravesham, and Folkestone and Hythe, but in Tunbridge Wells this figure rises to 41%.
While care home deaths in Kent continue to rise, the rate at which they are could be falling in line with those in hospitals.
In the week up to April 24, there were 48 registered deaths in care homes - down from 66 the previous week.
More people from Medway have died from Covid-19 than any other area of Kent - but a neighbouring borough has the county's highest death rate.
At least 113 residents of the Towns lost their lives to the virus before April 24 - more than a third higher than the next worst-affected.
But the numbers are unsurprising given almost 300,000 people live there, with five other areas of Kent actually having more deaths per percentage of their population.
Worst-hit is Dartford, which saw the deaths of 69 residents in the same period - a rate of 62.9 per 100,000 people.
The lowest number of deaths was recorded in Tunbridge Wells and Tonbridge and Malling, which both lost 29 residents.
The latter also has the lowest death rate, with 22.2 deaths per 100,000 people.
Broken down even further geographically, Cliftonville West in Thanet has the highest number of Covid-19 deaths in the county, with 13 people losing their lives before April 17.
Locals suggest people routinely flouting lockdown restrictions is a factor.