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Where Omicron is spreading in Kent and Medway - and Covid booster uptake is lowest

New figures reveal where Omicron is spreading fastest in Kent and Medway - and which district has the lowest booster jab uptake.

So far, 23 cases of the variant have been confirmed in the county, with another 151 probable infections.

Dartford has the highest number of Omicron cases in Kent, as well as the lowest Covid booster uptake
Dartford has the highest number of Omicron cases in Kent, as well as the lowest Covid booster uptake

Meanwhile, 38.3% of the population in Kent aged 12 and over have had third doses of the Covid vaccine - recently shown to offer much better protection against Omicron.

But there is wide discrepancy across the county.

In Folkestone and Hythe, 44.3% have had a booster - the highest uptake in Kent.

But in Dartford, just 32.2% have had a third dose.

And the borough has also been hit worst by Omicron.

Latest government figures show there have been five confirmed cases in Dartford - and a further 49 probable infections.

Canterbury has the same number of confirmed instances of Omicron, the joint highest in the county.

Medway and Sevenoaks have both each had four confirmed cases and 14 probable infections.

Intriguingly the specimen date for the first confirmed cases in the county were in Dartford and Medway on November 22, two days before Omicron was first reported in South Africa.

It comes as latest research shows someone who has had a booster has far better protection against the new variant compared to someone who has just had two doses.

On Friday, the UK Health Service Agency said a third dose gives around 70% to 75% protection against symptomatic infection with Omicron.

Today, the government has announced that the roll-out of boosters is being extended to everyone aged 30 and over.

The national booking system will open to everyone in that age group from Monday.

The move comes amid concerns the UK is facing a major wave of infections in January.

New modelling suggests that under one scenario almost twice the number of Covid patients could be admitted to hospital compared with last year due to the impact of Omicron.

Experts from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) calculated figures which say a large wave of infections could occur over the next few months if tougher measures are not brought in.

The picture in Kent is less grim at the moment, with Covid patient numbers four times lower now than in December 2020, despite there being twice as many cases.

Dr Emily Lawson, head of the NHS Covid-19 vaccination programme, said: “With the emergence of the new variant and the rising case numbers, there has never been a more important time to get boosted.

“So when it’s your turn, come forward and book in.”

Dr Susan Hopkins, from the UKHSA, today told the BBC said she has not yet had any reports of Omicron deaths, but it is "too early" to make any assumptions.

A walk-in booster clinic is being held this weekend at the Sea Cadet hub in Vauxhall Road, Canterbury.

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