Last week the Government met and exceeded its target of providing 100,000 tests per day for COVID-19. This achievement now gives us one of the best testing regimes in the world to help in our fight against the coronavirus. It is particularly important that front line staff in the NHS as well as those working in social care, can get a fast and accurate diagnosis of their symptoms if they believe they may have the virus.
In England anyone can be tested if they are placed in one of the following categories. They are essential workers including NHS and social care staff with symptoms, anyone over the age of 65 with symptoms of the coronavirus, anyone with symptoms whose work cannot be done from home (for example, construction workers, shop workers, emergency plumbers and delivery drivers), anyone who has symptoms of coronavirus and lives with any of those identified above, social care workers and residents in care homes (with or without symptoms), and NHS workers and patients without symptoms, in line with NHS England guidance. More information about this is also available at the government website gov.uk/coronavirus. You can also apply online through this portal for your coronavirus test.
The main testing centre for Kent is located next to Ebbsfleet International station, but testing is also being conducted at special facilities at the major hospitals, including the William Harvey at Ashford and the Kent & Canterbury Hospital at Canterbury. In addition to this there are a four mobile testing centres, which will be established in each location where they are sent for three to four days before moving on. You can see where the mobile centres will be when you make your online booking for a test.
Concerns have been raised again this week about migrant crossings in the Channel from France and Belgium, and what more can be done to stop this dangerous practice. As a result of improved security in France around Calais, these crossings are now starting from different locations further along the coast. Many people trying to make these crossings are detected by the authorities either before or as they enter the water and are detained by the French police. We need to be doing all we can to stop these crossings altogether. Those that do reach UK waters are detained by the authorities and many that do not have a claim to enter this country are returned.
Away from the coronavirus, I was pleased to see the announcement this week from Trooli, a Kent company based at Kings Hill, which is a provider of full fibre broadband services. They have announced that Hawkinge will be the first town in east Kent to benefit from one of their full fibre networks. This fibre to the home service delivers guaranteed upload and download speeds of up to 900Mbps, compared to UK average broadband speeds of 46.2Mbps for downloads and 6.2Mbps for uploads. Orders to be connected to the new network are now being taken with customers booking in May being offered installation – normally £120 – and the first month’s subscription free of charge. The service will be accessible to around 2,800 premises in the area and will go live from June.