Published: 10:18, 09 August 2020
| Updated: 11:43, 09 August 2020
By Ciaran Duggan
Local democracy reporter
A public health boss has warned of the risk of a second coronavirus wave in the county.
Kent County Council's (KCC) public health director, Andrew Scott-Clark, said he has genuine concerns there could be a second spike amid rising case numbers across Europe and the UK.
Public Health England recently stated that the coronavirus infection rate in Kent - what is known as the 'R' number - had crept above one for the first time since lockdown restrictions were eased in June.
The latest data - published this week - also shows the total number of Covid-19 cases in Kent, since the pandemic started, stands at 9,317, including 1,102 in Medway.
Mr Scott-Clark said: "We are worried about a second peak and therefore we must do all we can to minimise that."
His comments were made during a virtual public meeting of KCC's scrutiny committee as several councillors questioned Mr Scott-Clark and his health colleagues, including KCC cabinet member Cllr Clair Bell (Con), on the county's preparedness for potential future spikes.
Academic papers seen by Mr Scott-Clark show that only around 10% of UK's population have contracted coronavirus. The infection rate in Kent equates to 519 per 100,000 of the population and 395 for Medway, since March.
Efforts to prevent a resurgence include powers handed to councils in the county to impose local lockdowns while Covid testing capacity has been ramped up. Regional sites at Ebbsfleet Station, Ashford and Manston Airport have been managing well over 1,000 tests a day.
Mr Scott-Clark said: "We should be clear that Covid has not gone away, it is out there and circulating and it wants to jump between us because it needs to do that to continue its life cycle and that's what we need to break.
"Other countries that have come out of lockdown very quickly, some of the states in America, Australia at the moment with New South Wales and Victoria, and areas of Japan have actually seen an increase in cases."
Closer to home, Aberdeen was forced into Scotland's first ever local lockdown on Wednesday due to a cluster of 54 cases around a single pub. This means that its 228,000 residents face restrictions which has seen pubs, hotels and restaurants having to close.
The hospitality sector in Leicester was denied the chance to reopen on July 4 but pubs and restaurants reopened on Monday for the first time in months.