On Wednesday this week, along with other Kent MPs, I met with the Chief Constable of Kent Police, Alan Pughsley, for a briefing on the murder investigation following the death of the police community support officer (PCSO) Julia James. Her body was discovered on 27 April in Akholt Wood, in Snowdown, between Canterbury and Dover. She was not on duty at the time of her death, and there was no apparent motive for her killing. Kent Police are conducting a thorough investigation and if you have any information that could be helpful you can call them on 0800 0514 526 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. Crimes like this are very rare, but in most murder investigations, somebody, somewhere will have information that could help the police identify the person who committed the crime. However, until that time, and given the brutal nature of the murder of Julia James, Kent Police have advised people in the area around Snowdown to remain cautious, vigilant and aware of your surroundings when you are out and about. Also, to remember to keep your phone on you and charged, plan your route and tell someone where you are going and how long you will be.
We are continuing to make excellent progress with the roll out of the coronavirus vaccine. As of Tuesday this week, a total of more than 34.6 million people in Britain have been given a first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, out of a population of 67 million. We also have orders in place for over 510 million doses of eight different COVID-19 vaccines, some of which remain under development. The ready supply of vaccines and the excellent work of our NHS has given us one of the most effective vaccination programmes in the world. With over 50% of people having been vaccinated, the UK is ahead of the United States of America on 44%, Germany on 28% and France on 23%. The vaccination programme has helped to stop the spread of the virus, and on several days in the last few weeks there have been no reported new cases of coronavirus in the Folkestone and Hythe district. The COVID vaccines have also protected people who do get the virus from the need to be treated in hospital. Currently, for the East Kent hospitals trust area there are only eight people in hospital receiving treatment for COVID-19 and none of them are on ventilators. This compares to an average daily admittance rate for COVID in East Kent of 38 per day at the start of the year.
This week we are also expecting the government to give updated travel advice on which countries are considered to be safer to visit, once non-essential international travel is allowed again. Travel for tourism is expected to resume along with the return of indoor hospitality, from 17 May. The Government has also announced this week that from the autumn, everyone over the age of 50 will be offered a COVID vaccine booster jab. This will either be a repeat of one of the main vaccines currently being administered, or potentially a new vaccine designed to protect against a new variant strain of COVID, if that is required.