Essex encouraged to continue following COVID-19 guidelines

People across Essex are being encouraged to continue following COVID-19 guidelines as the latest rate for the county has risen exponentially to 305.3 per 100,000 – a 79 per cent increase over the last seven days.

Nearly every area of Essex has seen a significant increase in the rate of COVID-19, with the total number of cases rising to 4,547 in the seven days up to 10 December.

Cases are very high in specific age groups, with the rates for people over 60 now standing at 140 per 100,000 – an increase of 37% in the past week. The 11-18 age group has also seen an especially steep and rapid rise, with the rate now standing at 457 per 100,000.

Specific areas of the county continue to be a concern due to their high rates, including Basildon which currently has a rate of 648 per 100,000 and Epping Forest, with a rate of 445.

Areas in mid Essex have also seen notable increases, including Braintree and Chelmsford which have increased by 176% and 159% respectively.

There has been an increase in the number of hospital beds occupied by COVID-19 patients, with current numbers representing 93% of those seen at the height of the outbreak in April-May.

As of 15 December, there were 523 beds occupied by confirmed COVID-19 patients in Essex hospital trusts. This equates to 15% of trust capacity and is 49% higher compared to bed occupancy one week previous (8 December).

Both Basildon and Southend Hospitals are seeing sharp increases in the number of COVID-19 patients. Numbers at Princess Alexandra Hospital in Harlow, Broomfield Hospital in Chelmsford and Colchester Hospital are also increasing.

Essex County Council is working alongside partners to manage the increasing cases, including managing transmission through the local track and trace service, which is now seeing complete case and contact rates of 87% and 90% respectively.

Mobile testing units have also been rolled out in south Essex, to give residents access to fast Lateral Flow Tests, with the new Pitsea Testing Centre available from this week. A further 10 sites are scheduled to roll out over the coming weeks.

Postal test kits for asymptomatic people will also shortly be available to collect from local sites across Essex.

You can find the weekly COVID-19 data for Essex (excluding Southend and Thurrock) here and the latest news and guidance from E ssex County Council here.