Kent County Council is working in close partnership with all organisations to ensure health and social care systems are prepared for further increases in the number of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases.
Public Health England has today (10th March) confirmed a fifth case of Coronavirus in Kent and there are two confirmed cases in Medway.
Click here for the latest figures and reported cases of coronavirus in the UK.
Following the publication of the national Action Plan, all organisations in Kent and Medway are looking closely at their own business continuity plans and how these can be adapted as the situation develops.
To ensure the health and social care system is prepared to respond to all eventualities, the NHS and local authorities have plans in place to ensure people receive the essential care and support services they need.
Plans are flexible ranging from a mild, low impact on services, through to a severe prolonged impact.
All social care providers are required to have business continuity plans in place so that in the event of any emergency, services continue for our clients, with emphasis on our most vulnerable people.
Social care staff and providers are also receiving the national Public Health England guidance including information on what to do if someone in the setting has contact with a confirmed case.
In these cases, the person affected will be asked to self-isolate and they will be actively followed up by Public health England’s Health Protection team which will also provide advice on cleaning.
KCC is ensuring that schools, children’s centres, libraries and other public community settings including early years, are also being regularly reminded of the national guidelines.
We are aware that some schools have taken the decision to self-isolate pupils or teachers, even if they are not showing symptoms, as a precaution but this is a matter for the headteacher.
Director of Public Health for Kent Andrew Scott-Clark says: “The work Kent County Council has been carrying out with Public Health colleagues and Kent Resilience partners means we have very well-developed plans in place to deal with whatever comes next.
“I firmly believe that we should be calm and proportionate in our response. I am asking all Kent residents to keep washing their hands, be aware of personal hygiene and think carefully about the things you can do to minimise the spread, such as catching coughs and sneezes in tissues and then disposing of those tissues.
“This is the best thing we can all do to slow the spread of the virus.
“We anticipate an increase in numbers which is why our services have planned for, and are ready, for this situation.
“I’d like to reassure people that the risk to the general public remains low and that we continue to work with health colleagues and partners to do everything we can to stop the virus spreading and ensure the people of Kent are protected.”
At Kent County Council, we are engaging with our own staff and provider services to ensure they are aware of the latest national guidelines at www.phe.gov.uk/coronavirus
We would like to reassure people that the risk to the wider public remains low and you can only catch it if you have been close to someone who has the virus.
The national guidance stresses that if you have travelled to an affected area recently, or have been in close contact with someone who has, and you think you may have symptoms, the advice is to self-isolate at home, avoid public transport and call NHS 111 for the next steps or use the online NHS 111 service at https://111.nhs.uk/covid-19.
You can find more information at www.nhs.uk/coronavirus Do not go to hospital or your doctor’s surgery.
We have been advised that there is no need to do anything differently in any care setting at present. If any staff do become infected through travel to affected countries, they will be contacted by the local Health Protection Team to take them through a risk assessment for your particular setting.
Health Protection Teams are part of Public Health England and will provide advice and guidance on infectious disease and non-infectious environmental hazards, manage and control outbreaks of infectious disease in the community and are a source of expert advice on new infections.
The main message remains that all residents and staff should consider basic hygiene advice to help prevent the spread of coronavirus and other infections such as flu.
Guidance to social or community care and residential settings https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-for-social-or-community-care-and-residential-settings-on-covid-19
Guidance to employers and businesses https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19