“Green shoots” of hope are beginning to appear in Essex as the number of new coronavirus cases begins to stabilise across the county.

John Spence, Essex County Council cabinet member for health, has sent a message to Essex residents, urging “cautious optimism”.

It comes as a further 460 cases were confirmed across the whole of the county - including Southend and Thurrock.

Mr Spence said: “For the first time in weeks, I am able to talk with a slight hint of cautious optimism.

“Our numbers have stabilised over the last two weeks.

“All we can say is this, we have the first green shots and if we can keep this up over the next couple of weeks we could be able to recommend to the Secretary of State that we can move to Tier 1 when lockdown ends.”

He added: “So thanks for your sacrifices, thanks for the great work you’re doing. Let’s now keep it up and enable us to get free of this early in December.”

More than 460 new cases of coronavirus have been recorded across the whole of Essex in the last day.

Across the Essex County Council area, 357 new cases were confirmed.

Public Health England figures show that 15,964 people in Essex had been confirmed as testing positive for Covid-19 by 9am today, up from 15,607 the same time on Thursday.

In Southend, the tally was 47 while in Thurrock there were 63.

The cases are among the 68,854 recorded across the East of England, a figure which rose by 1,650 over the period.

The increase comes as new figures reveal the number of people in hospital fighting Covid-19 in the Mid and South Essex Trust, which runs Basildon, Southend and Broomfield hospitals.

NHS England figures show 123 coronavirus patients are being cared for across the three hospitals, although Basildon Hospital is the designated Covid care centre for the region.

The data shows that the number of people being treated in hospital for Covid-19 by 8am on November 10 was up from 117 on the same day the previous week.

Four weeks ago there were 39.