As lockdown restrictions ease further from this weekend, health chiefs in Kent and Medway are urging people to take responsibility for keeping COVID-19 at bay.
From the 4 July, Government guidance will allow people to keep a social distance of ‘one metre plus’. Pubs, restaurants, hotels and hairdressers can re-open plus two households will be able to meet up in any setting with social distancing measures. Ahead of this, a new campaign is being launched in Kent, encouraging people to ‘Protect Kent and Medway’ by playing their part if contacted by the NHS Test and Trace programme.
It has never been more important than now for everyone in Kent to take the necessary steps to reduce the spread of Coronavirus. This new campaign sets out the vital steps we must all now take to help local authorities, health and social care teams to deal with potential future outbreaks.
Kent County Council and Medway Council, alongside Public Health England, have developed a new specific COVID-19 plan which builds on existing outbreak management plans and aligns with the new NHS Test and Trace system.
The Kent and Medway Outbreak Management Plan sees the councils linking up with health partners and emergency services, regional PHE teams and other Government departments to respond to and deal with clusters or outbreaks locally, in whatever setting they arise. This includes schools, care homes, hospitals, prisons and other community settings.
Follow public health advice
Medway Council Director of Public Health, James Williams said: “We believe our plans will effectively manage new live cases, without any need to ‘lock down’ an area of Kent or Medway.
“Of course, in residential, workplace or education settings, there are individual plans for managing incidents of coronavirus and we work with Health Protection teams to manage these more complex scenarios.”
He added: “It is sometimes necessary to shut down buildings or settings to control the spread of the virus but this is decided on a case-by-case basis. We are not planning for whole area lockdowns, instead we are relying on people following public health advice and guidance for as long as this virus presents a risk to people in Kent and Medway.”
The message to residents remains clear – to follow national guidance on social distancing, use thorough and regular handwashing, and follow advice if contacted by the NHS Test and Trace system.
Businesses across the county will also be encouraged to continue following national Government guidelines around safe social distancing measures and to support their staff if they are contacted by the NHS and advised to self-isolate for 14 days.
By playing your part, you will directly help to contain the virus by reducing its spread
Kent County Council Director of Public Health, Andrew Scott-Clark said: “Testing is essential if contact-tracing systems now in place across the UK are to work effectively, help stop the spread of the virus and avoid the need for country wide lockdown restrictions. Testing also helps the NHS plan for extra demand and predict the capacity they may need across care settings for patients.
“The critical element around COVID-19 is that it appears to cluster and can be passed on by people who have little or no symptoms of the disease. It is therefore critical to maintain social distancing when out and about, wash your hands frequently, and stick to the national messages about self-isolating, if and when asked to by Test and Trace. By playing your part, you will directly help to contain the virus by reducing its spread.”
The NHS test and trace service ensures that anyone who develops symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) can quickly be tested to find out if they have the virus, and also includes targeted asymptomatic testing of NHS and social care staff and care home residents. It also helps trace close recent contacts of anyone who tests positive for coronavirus and, if necessary, notifies them that they must self-isolate at home to help stop the spread of the virus.
Residents in Kent and Medway can find out more information and request a home testing kit or book an appointment at one of the county’s testing centres.
What action should I take if I develop symptoms?
- you must follow the rules to self-isolate with other members of your household and order a test to find out if you have coronavirus
- if you test positive for coronavirus, you must share information promptly about your recent contacts through the NHS test and trace service to help us alert other people who may need to self-isolate
- if you have had close recent contact with someone who has coronavirus, you must self-isolate if the NHS test and trace service advises you to do so
You can apply for a swab test for yourself, or for anyone in your household, if you or they have symptoms.
People working or living in care homes can be tested even if they don't have symptoms. Find out more about home test kits and booking a test at a Kent testing centre.