Coronavirus cases continue to fall in Kent, with some wards seeing declines of more than 50%.
The latest figures show new cases in the seven days to January 17 fell by 30% in Kent and 34.8% in Medway.
Kent recorded 5,638 fewer cases – 13,179 in total – from the previous week, with the figure falling from 1,190 at Medway to 2,229.
All county districts have seen a significant drop in cases, the largest being in Thanet (-39.2%), Medway and Dartford (-33.6%).
Kent’s infection rate over the period stands at 829.4 and Medway’s at 798.5, both well below the UK average of 922.4.
Ten neighborhoods across the county saw drops of more than 50% in numbers released this afternoon. They were:
Instead Rise & Meopham: -50% (47 cases)
Cliff: -50% (40 cases)
Lympne & Palmarsh: -51.5% (32 cases)
East Malling, West Malling and Trottiscliffe: -52.9% (80 cases)
Rainham Southeast: -53.1% (38 cases)
Hempstead and Wigmore: -53.4% (41 cases)
Dumpton (Thanet): -54.2% (65 cases)
West Parkwood (Medway): -55% (36 cases)
East Sheppey: – -67.4% (89 cases)
Cranbrook, Sissinghurst and Frittenden: -68.8% (25 cases)
The percentage declines and new cases for county districts during the seven-day period are as follows:
Ashford: -25.7% (1,145 cases)
Canterbury: -21.5 (1,286 cases)
Dartford: -33.6% (998 cases)
Dover: -16.6 (1,137 cases)
Folkestone and Hythe: -32.5% (920 cases)
Graveham: -31.8% (932 cases)
Maidstone: -28.1% (1,438 cases)
Sevenoaks: -31.1% (891 cases)
Swale: -32.1% (1,262 cases)
Thannet: -39.2% (1,146 cases)
Tonbridge and Shopping Centre: -32.5% (1,135 cases)
Tunbridge Wells: -32.8% (889 cases)
The vaccination program continues to be rolled out across the county, with 62.3% of Kent residents having now received their third shot or booster shot. The figure for Medway is 56.2%.
The fall comes after it was announced on Wednesday that Plan B measures, including mask-wearing and working from home, are to be scrapped while self-isolation rules will also be scrapped.
Boris Johnson told MPs in the House of Commons that more than 90 per cent of over-60s across the UK have now received booster shots to protect them, and scientists believe the Omicron wave has peaked .
Back to plan A: Everything you need to know
It is hoped that Omicron’s peak has now passed through Kent and the rest of the country.
Some scientists believe Omicron is the “first ray of light” to ensure Covid becomes endemic and something we learn to live with.
The drop in cases comes after Kent recorded record levels of positive tests throughout December as the most infectious variant took hold.
Although the number of falling cases gives rise to optimism, a change in government rules could be a factor in the drop.
People with no symptoms no longer need to take a PCR test if they return a positive result on a lateral flow, so statisticians have to rely on them to record the infection themselves.
Last week, Dr Susan Hopkins, chief medical adviser to the UK Health Security Agency, said hospitals had been able to offload patients “faster” because Omicron was milder than previous variants of the coronavirus.
But she added that the NHS remains under “a lot of pressure”, with some trusts “unable to do much of their elective care” – a situation exacerbated by staff absences.