Published: 14:13, 20 October 2020
| Updated: 17:48, 20 October 2020
People on Sheppey have been accused of treating Covid-19 as a “joke” as infection rates soar across the Island.
New figures reveal there have been 90 new cases in a week - one in six of all positive tests recorded in Kent .
Recent outbreaks have seen the infection rate jump to more than 200 in three areas of the Island, compared to a county average of 49.4.
Worst hit are Sheerness East, with 239.6 weekly cases per 100,000 people, followed by Sheppey East, with a rate of 231.1.
Padmini Nissanga is a councillor for the latter area, and blames residents for failing to take the pandemic seriously.
"The number one thing I have found as a councillor is people don't want to listen," she said.
“I tell people, can't you see what's happening here? And they just ignore us.
"I went to the High Street last week and in a whole street of people only two or three were wearing a mask. People are going up and down the street and into shops with no mask whatsoever.
"People don't want to listen, they are so stubborn. They think this is a joke. But this is the whole country, not just the Isle of Sheppey.”
In the week up to October 14 there were 889 new cases across Kent and Medway - with 90 of them on Sheppey alone.
It leaves Swale with the highest infection rate of any of the county’s 13 boroughs and districts, at 88.
Kent County Council’s director of public health, Andrew Scott-Clark, says the situation is concerning.
"Cases are rising across the whole of Kent and Medway; however, we are seeing a worrying increase in cases across Swale, particularly on the Isle of Sheppey,” he said,
“There are a number of cases associated with residential settings, work-places and secondary schools, and while some are contained outbreaks, there may also be some community transmission which is helping the virus to continue to spread.
"Therefore we urge the public in Swale to play their part by closely following social distancing, regular handwashing and wearing a mask in public places to help keep the number of cases as low as possible.”
The latest Public Health England figures reveal there are 13 small areas in Kent and Medway with an infection rate of more than 100.
Five of them are on Sheppey.
But the numbers are still much lower than in areas such as Manchester (437.5) and Liverpool (642.5), where the tightest restrictions are already in place or are about to be introduced.
The infection rate across Kent and Medway combined is currently 47.8 - up 3% on the week, but with the rate of the increase slowing down.
Mr Scott-Clark, however, says there is no time for complacency.
“Although we are currently below the regional and national average for rates of cases, which means Kent and Medway are deemed as medium risk and within tier 1 restrictions, to avoid parts of the county moving to higher tiers, we appeal to the wider community in Kent to play its part and if you are contacted by the NHS Test and Trace service, then you should follow the guidance given to self-isolate.”