Published: 12:42, 25 March 2020
| Updated: 15:57, 25 March 2020
Civic leaders are calling on people in the Medway Towns to follow the government advice and stay in.
Council leader Cllr Alan Jarrett and Labour leader Cllr Vince Maple say it is vital residents play their part to stop the spread of coronavirus.
Medway Maritime Hospital recorded its first death last Thursday and the hospital preparing for a surge in patients with cases already rising, hospital trust boss James Devine said.
Cllr Jarrett (Con) said: “My main message is to fully follow the guidance, which will help stop this virus spreading.
“The public sector is trying to keep people safe and stop the spread. The advice will save lives.”
He added the council’s first priority was to work with health bodies, revealing it had received more than £6m government cash.
Part of this is to help get recovered people out of hospital who should not be there but are because of personal circumstances.
He also called on people to stop panic buying, adding: “It shows how greedy and selfish some people can be.”
He described as “disappointing behaviour” people who flocked to the coast at the weekend and congregated near pubs and beaches.
Cllr Maple said: “Like all communities, Medway is doing its best to deal with the global pandemic. We have seen so many people from care workers to our emergency services, council staff to local charities and those who work within our NHS all going above and beyond.
“Regrettably not everyone has been following the government’s social distancing measures – put bluntly if we don’t see everyone following that advice then more of our friends, neighbours and family members will die.
“Medway is a kind, generous, and compassionate community – the best and only way we can show that compassion right now is by staying at home. This simple action will save the lives of our key workers, our friends, and our families.”
Mr Devine, chief executive of the Medway NHS Foundation Trust, says the community "can rest assured" hospital staff are working around the clock to make sure the hospital is ready and prepared for an expected increase of people needing treatment.
He added: “We would like to thank the people of Medway and Swale for their patience and understanding as we have made unavoidable changes to our visiting arrangements, to our non-emergency operations and to the way we provide outpatient appointments. We know this is not ideal for anyone impacted by these changes, and for that we apologise.
“We would also like to thank the community for their overwhelming kindness to our staff during this difficult period; we have been inundated with offers of support, food and donations; these have really lifted the morale of our very tired staff.
“The single biggest thing that our community can do for us now is to follow hand hygiene advice and social distancing guidance and to stay at home. Please follow the government guidance that has been issued, and together we can fight back against the spread of this virus.”
The hospital has launched an appeal for people to donate towards care packs for NHS workers.
Visit the special justgiving page.
More by this authorMatt Ramsden