BASILDON has been highlighted as a Covid-19 hotspot where cases continue to rise despite many Essex districts beginning to plateau.

Essex County Council’s public health director Dr Mike Gogarty has raised concerns on the situation in the area after the rate reached the highest point since the beginning of the pandemic.

Basildon’s seven-day rolling rate – expressed as the number of new cases per 100,000 population – is now 242, with 453 cases confirmed in most recent seven-day period.

In contrast, in the previous seven-day period recorded a rate of 130.9, when 245 new cases were confirmed.

Gavin Callaghan, Labour leader of Basildon, blamed the Government’s criticised test and trace system, which last week - in Essex - reached a record low number of contacts, 63.1 per cent, of people who have tested positive for coronavirus.

He said: “We were told we would be getting a test and trace system which would be a game changer and six months later we still don’t have the ability to properly track and trace what’s going on.

“We do not have the ability to find the outbreak. If we keep going the way we are than January to March will be incredibly grim and a very strict lockdown will be needed.

“We need to get enough tests for our key workers and this should happen in the next few weeks. There is some light at the end of the tunnel but it’s a long tunnel. I expect the lockdown will be extended until December 17 and stop to give us time for Christmas.”

Within the Basildon borough, the latest statistics show the biggest week-on-week rise is in Steeple View and Noak Bridge, which saw 41 new cases, up by 31 from the previous seven days.

That equates to a 310 per cent increase and a local virus rate of 454.6 - well above the England average.

Dr Mike Gogarty, director of public health at Essex County Council, said: “Over the last two weeks we have seen a levelling out of cases in Essex.

“But sadly over the last week we have started to see an increase again, more pronounced in south and west parts of the county, particular in Epping, Brentwood and Basildon. In other areas, we’ve seen a real reduction in cases, particularly in Colchester and in Tendering.

He added: “Overall, the level of cases is below what we expected when we went into Tier 2 in October.

“The cases have been across all age groups [and] the 18-22 age group is starting to go up again.

“But sadly we’re seeing cases in older people being reflected in hospital admissions and sadly deaths.”

Referring to how the county will emerge from the month-long lockdown, he added: “It is absolutely critical that if Essex is to leave current restrictions in the best possible shape, people must keep working from home where they can.