Published: 17:16, 21 October 2020
| Updated: 20:24, 21 October 2020
A fourth hospital ward has been closed off to visitors as the number of coronavirus admissions continues to rise.
Cases at Medway Maritime Hospital in Gillingham have continued to increase prompting executives to take the decision today.
The Will Adams ward closed to visitors last Wednesday while the Jade and Wakeley wards were shut on Friday.
Today, it has been confirmed the Byron ward is also closed to visitors. All four wards have become "hot wards" and are admitting patients.
The hospital says it has prepared for closing wards to visitors amid the second wave of Covid-19 and has several measures in place to keep patients and staff as safe as possible and control the virus.
The wards continue operate as normal but visitors and members of the public have been banned for visiting them.
Restrictions are also in place to limit staff entering affected areas who do not have to be on the ward.
Access to hot wards is limited to staff who only need to be there with "periphery staff" such as pharmacy and procurement teams with nursing and clinical teams assigned to their specific wards.
The emergency department and outpatient appointments continue to run and patients are being encouraged to attend hospital for their check-ups and operations.
Safety measures are in place throughout the hospital including PPE for staff, hand hygiene stations, one way systems, face coverings and social distancing.
The hospital says it remains well-prepared to manage the rising number of admissions and has reminded patients to continue following national advice such as wearing face masks, washing hands regularly and following social distancing rules.
The government says it would be wrong to put Kent into lockdown at this stage, according to the UK's deputy chief medical officer Professor Jonathan Van Tam.
In Kent and Medway, the infection rate is currently 47.8 per 100,000 people - up 3% on last week - but is considerably lower than the national average and far lower hotspots entering the most tight lockdown measures.
Nottingham has an infection rate of more than 700 per 100,000 and the lowest area in Greater Manchester (Stockport) has 273 per 100,000.
The exact number of patients with coronavirus currently being treated at Medway Maritime Hospital has not been confirmed.
But KentOnline understands it is in double figures for the first time in months after a significant increase in the past two weeks.
Patients continue to be treated on the four closed wards with even tougher infection control measures now being implemented.
The situation for visiting the four closed wards will continue to be assessed until it is safe to reopen the affected wards with the rest of the hospital operating as normal.
A hot Covid ward has remained open throughout the summer months since the first wave and has always had at least one patient.
The latest NHS figures show there have been 11 admissions at Medway hospital between October 1-11 - these include already confirmed Covid patients from the community and care homes and hospital patients who have tested positive.
Seven of those cases were reported as admissions from the community and none from care homes.
The NHS has not recorded figures for the number of Covid patients discharged in that time.
New numbers up to October 18 are due to be released tomorrow.