According to the latest government figures, Swale in Kent now has the highest COVID infection rate in the country.
Swale has recorded 631.7 cases per 100,000 people in the week up to 18th November – higher than Hull, which was the country’s worst-affected place last week.
An emergency meeting has been called by council officials to address the high number of Covid-19 cases across Swale, which is made up of Sheppey, Sittingbourne and Faversham. Members of the public and press are not welcome to hear the talks.
When asked why he thought Swale was being badly affected, Councillor Truelove said: “I think it’s very difficult to say. People talk to us about reasons. There’s obviously a fair number at the prisons, we’ve got a fairly large number in care homes and we have, clearly, got a lot just in the community, within households. People are saying it’s the meeting of children outside of schools and play dates and people aren’t social distancing.”
There have already been talks about whether Swale will continue under a Tier 3 lockdown when the rest of the country comes out of the current lockdown on 2nd December.
Councillor Truelove said “It could be Kent as a whole. As far as the government is concerned, they tend to do it by public health authority and Kent is a public health authority. I think it should be Kent rather than just Swale”.
So if you live in Kent and were planning on doing your Christmas shopping from 3rd December, you may need to think again. If Councillor’s get their way, the whole of Kent could see Tier 3 restrictions imposed for a number of weeks.
People have claimed that Swales high infection rate is due to the unemployment rate being at 27.4%, whilst people on benefit is at 15.9%. They say it is because of selfish behaviour and ignorance on behalf of some individuals, which is affecting the people who are being careful.
Others say that the high infection rate is due to the number of prisons in the area, where it is difficult to isolate the prisioners.
A resident of Faversham has said that there were only 30 infections in their area, but if they are not put into the same lockdown tier as Sheppey or Sittingbourne, then people will just travel into Faversham, which will cause a higher infection rate. This is a potential problem which has been acknowledged by Councillor Truelove.