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downsmail.co.uk


Mortuary ‘a sure sign of Kent’s virus threat’


THE need for a temporary mortuary in response to the rapid rise of COVID-19 underscores the severity of Kent’s situation, say experts.


The Kent Resilience Forum opened the facility in Beddow Way, Aylesford, on New Year’s Day to ease the pressure on the county’s hospital mortuaries as they reach capacity.


Since the new strain of the virus surfaced in Kent, almost 800 cases per 100,000 people have been recorded.


More than 3,000 died and in the final two weeks of 2020, more peo- ple died of COVID-19 in the South East than anywhere else in Eng- land and Wales.


Experts predicted infections would peak in the middle of Jan- 3,500 laptops


‘not enough’ THE 3,500 laptops issued by the Government to disadvantaged stu- dents are not enough, according to headteachers and councillors. The Department for Education (DfE) has also provided just over 400 4G routers to the county’s youngsters who are struggling with their home wifi connections, since the third national lockdown was announced.


Education Secretary Gavin


Williamson said 100,000 laptops were delivered to schools across England last month. However, over 200,000 Kent stu-


dents are working from home, data from KCC reveals, not all of whom have wifi and laptop access. County Hall’s main opposition leader, Cllr Rob Bird (Lib Dem), said: “The 3,500 laptops are nowhere near enough. I’d argue that KCC should be doing much more to secure extra.”


Early buses THOSE with concessionary bus


passes will now be able to use them before 9.30am.


It applies to those with disabled or older person’s bus passes in Kent.


The temporary relaxation of the


rules aims to help vulnerable peo- ple to get to and from vaccination appointments as well as dedicated shopping times.


Patients receive vaccines


HEADCORN GP Surgery became a busy vaccination centre in January for a large area of the Weald, including Yalding, Marden and Staplehurst, but stretching to many major villages to the south. A large team of professionals and volunteers ensured a swift flow of pa-


tients through the spacious Grigg Lane surgery. Among the busiest volun- teers were car park attendants faced with a busy flow of vehicles, many visiting this countryside surgery for the first time. Our picture shows Downs Mail President Dennis Fowle receiving his jab.


Patient collapses: The surgery team resuscitated a patient on his way to a vaccination after he collapsed in the car park. He was taken to hospital showing good signs of improvement.


‘Cabs for jabs’ taxi service


LOCAL cab firms are doing their bit to help during the roll-out of the Government’s vaccination programme.


Sapphire Cars and Express Cabs are offering to help the el- derly and vulnerable at a special rate, with no charges for waiting time.


A spokesman for Sapphire


Cars, which runs 17 taxis, said: “All our cars have screens, mask- wearing and thorough cleaning regime. Customers needn’t worry how long it takes for their vacci- nation, we’ll hang on for them and get them home safely.” Call Express Cabs on 01622 222222 and Sapphire Cars on 01622 663000.


uary. The Aylesford site can ac- commodate 825 bodies


while


awaiting funerals, and officials say no post-mortem examinations are to be carried out there.


Director of Public Health for


Kent, Andrew Scott-Clark, said: “The fact that mortuary capacity across Kent is now overwhelmed and that this temporary facility is in use shows us all the shocking re- ality that COVID-19 is a very real threat indeed. “The new variant of the virus is thought to be up to 70% more transmissible than we saw in the first wave of the pandemic. We


now have 19 symptom-free testing sites across Kent and it is vital that we continue to identify anyone who tests positive in order that they can self-isolate. “We must do everything we can


to break the chain of transmission.” Assistant chief constable of Kent


Police, Claire Nix, who is also the chair of the Kent Resilience Forum, said: “The fact that a temporary place of rest has had to be set up in Kent should serve as a stark re- minder that the country is at a crit- ical point, and we must all understand how COVID-19 is.”


dangerous


COVID-19 | News Police issue


stiff penalties MORE than 700 people in Kent have been fined for breaching Coronavirus restrictions since the beginning of the pandemic. Since March 2020, a total of 729 people have been fined between £200 and £1,000 for having house parties, making unnecessary jour- neys, breaching travel regulations or going to public places whilst infected with the disease. Assistant Chief Constable Claire Nix said: “We remain in critical times, and whilst NHS staff have been remarkable in what they have achieved, they are still deal- ing with an overwhelming amount of seriously-ill patients. “The limitations posed by lock- down are difficult for everyone, and it is testament to the people of Kent that the vast majority of res- idents have changed their way of life to help stop the spread of this virus and protect the most vulner- able within the community. “I would like to thank these people for making such sacrifices, which will not only take the strain off the NHS, but ultimately save lives.”


Fund pledge


A CROWDFUNDING scheme is to be piloted by Kent County Council (KCC) to help dozens of community groups struggling fi- nancially from the pandemic. KCC pledged to launch an on- line fund to support cash- strapped local groups working for the benefit of residents and ex- pand volunteering opportunities. The authority has pledged to match fund a forecasted £10,000 raised from public donations. West Malling county councillor,


Cllr Trudy Dean (Lib Dem) said: “I have been involved in a few crowdfunding exercises which have been very good.


“There are people who have a great more disposable income now, because they are not spend- ing so much on things like trans- port.”


Groups ned


A GROUP of people were handed a £200 fine each for breaking lock- down rules in Maidstone. The group were seen riding scooters and playing loud music from cars at a car park in Sandling Road on January 13. The next day, two people who had met up in a car in Blue Bell Hill were also fined £200 each.


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