News | Coronavirus New morgue as deaths rise

AS MAIDSTONE becomes accustomed to its third national lockdown, a temporary morgue has been constructed at a business park in Aylesford.

The 24-hour Beddow Way site,

which will hold the bodies of those who have died of COVID-19, will be used to relieve pressure on hos- pital mortuaries as the COVID-19 death rate rises. The news comes as an extra vac- cination centre was announced for the county town at Headcorn Surgery in addition to Yalding, Marden, Staplehurst Health Cen- tre, Howell Surgery (Brenchley), Northridge Medical Practice (Hawkhurst), Lamberhurst, Old

Guidelines for funerals

NEW guidelines have been re- leased for those attending funerals at Vinters Park Crematorium and Maidstone Cemetery. Maidstone Borough Council,

which runs both sites, said that no more than 30 people should attend a funeral and that all attendees must wear masks. Mourners should observe social distancing rules and will not be al- lowed to help with carrying the coffin.

Bereavement services manager Sharon Smith said: “Sadly, the winter months do see an increase in the number of services we un- dertake. However, we are also see- ing an increase in deaths relating to the COVID-19 pandemic. “Personal safety is paramount at

this difficult time, and we ask that everyone takes precautions.”

Hospital visits

RELATIVES can still get essential items to loved ones who have been admitted to Maidstone Hospital. When family or carers arrive at

the hospital, they are asked to go to the main entrance and speak to the security team about the purpose of their visit.

They will then be directed to the nearby hub to hand the bag to a volunteer. They will not be able to enter the hospital due to restric- tions on non-essential visiting. Visitors will then be asked to complete a property checklist form, and to fill in the patient’s name, date of birth and the ward they are on.

Once completed, the volunteer

will take the bag and a completed check list form to the ward.


Parsonage Surgery (Goudhurst), Old School Surgery (Cranbrook), Crane Practice, Wish Valley (Hawkhurst), Orchard End Surgery (Cranbrook). Health bosses are warning resi-

dents to be remain patient as they roll out vaccine services. The other Maidstone and Malling vaccination centres are Avicenna Medical Centre (West Malling), Blackthorn Medical Cen- tre (Maidstone), Bower Mount Medical Centre (Maidstone),

Greensands branch surgery (Loose), Len Valley branch surgery (Harrietsham). Despite the pandemic, Maid-

stone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust says it is continuing to pro- vide cancer and other urgent oper- ations as much as possible. A spokesman for NHS Kent and

Medway said: “The NHS is rolling out vaccine services for all parts of Kent and Medway and 90% of our 200 GP practices already have ar- rangements confirmed.

“We know people are keen to

know when they will get the vac- cine, and this is an absolute prior- ity for the local NHS. “People are being contacted di-

rectly when the vaccine is available for them. We are asking everyone to please be patient and not to con- tact GP surgeries unless they have been sent an invitation.” NHS England says vaccinations

will be administered via GP hubs or practices and no patient journey should be more than 10 miles.

Call for help

A 24-HOUR helpline has been set up to support vulnerable people in Kent who need urgent help during lockdown. The helpline, called Kent To- gether, provides a single point of contact for anyone who needs vital supplies or medication or who wishes to report concerns about the welfare of someone else. If you are vulnerable and have

an urgent need that cannot be met through existing support net- works, you can call Kent Together on 03000 419292.

Test centres More ambulances called in

AN EXTRA 50 ambulance staff have been drafted in from other parts of the SouthEast as pressure mounts on health services. The ambulance service says the voluntary deployment of more person-

nel was part of a contingency preparation plan put in place for the end of the EU transition period, effectively the Brexit endgame. A spokesman said: "However, given the current situation, the crews have

increased their resilience as we continue to face significant pressure across our whole region relating to the pandemic." The new strain of the virus has sparked a massive spike in infections with

intensive care units at Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells hospitals with more cases needing ventilators than ever before.

TESTING for people who do not have COVID-19 symptoms is being rolled out across Kent. Residents attending this testing

will undergo a lateral flow swab test and will receive their result within a couple of hours. For Maidstone, the closest sites

are Kent Showground and Lark- field Library in Martin Square. Sites are open daily from 9am to 7pm. People can now book tests on-

line at covbook/home.

‘Stick to the rules or face fines’

KENT Police are urging local communities to continue to fol- low the lockdown regulations to help save lives. Assistant Chief Constable

Claire Nix warned that although most people are being compli- ant, some were clearly showing a “blatant disregard” of the rules. During the new year pe- riod, officers closed down house

parties, dealt with people breaching self-isolation require- ments and flouting travel bans. In total, 42 people were fined. Assistant Chief Constable Nix

said: “The vast majority of Kent residents recognise the impor- tance of abiding by the regula- tions to control the spread of COVID-19. However, on the oc- casions where people showed a

blatant disregard for the regula- tions, putting others in danger by hosting gatherings or meet- ing others whilst infected with the virus, officers were left with no other option but to issue fines. “The restrictions are designed

to reduce the infection rate – but they will only work if people comply.”

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