Published: 09:40, 18 November 2020
| Updated: 14:43, 18 November 2020
The coronavirus infection rate in part of Kent has soared to the third highest in England, the latest figures show.
Swale is now seeing 589.7 cases per 100,000 people, after nearly 900 new infections were reported in the week up to November 13.
It comes as Swale council's leader warned residents to follow guidelines and help contain the virus or risk facing stricter restriction.
Just Hull and Hartlepool have higher rates of infection than Swale, which includes the Isle of Sheppey, Sittingbourne and Faversham.
There were 885 new cases in the borough in just seven days, putting pressure on Medway Maritime Hospital in Gillingham, which tweeted yesterday to warn it was experiencing an increase in demand.
Thanet has also seen a surge in cases and sits in 16th place in England, with 520 cases per 100,000 people - up from 290.3 in a week.
The rise has prompted questions about what restrictions could be in place when the planned lockdown period ends on December 2.
Thanet District Council leader, Cllr Rick Everitt, says people cannot afford to be complacent.
Meanwhile, plans for a mass testing programme for Kent are being finalised, although no specific locations have been revealed.
Swale and Thanet now have higher infection rates than many northern areas that went into tier three - the 'very high alert level' - when the tiered system of restrictions was introduced in October.
Tough rules were imposed on people living in Wirral, Halton, Sefton, St Helens, Liverpool, Knowsley and Lancaster. When Wirral went into tier three its rate was 282.1 - Swale's is now more than double that.
Kent's two most infected areas now have a rate higher than five of these seven areas.
The county's public health director warned yesterday not to "expect to come out [of lockdown] at the same place we went in".
It increases the likelihood of parts of Kent being under tighter restrictions from December 2, if the rate of infection does not fall dramatically.