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Essex leaders and MPs are urging the government to place them in the 'high' category for coronavirus restrictions.
They say that cases across the county are continuing to rise and there are fears that remaining in the 'medium' level of restrictions will not curb the numbers.
The county council is going to apply to the Secretary of State for Health to be placed into the high level, which would mean a ban on household mixing, at home or in a public place.
Essex's county’s director of public health and wellbeing, Dr Mike Gogarty has advised case numbers will continue to accelerate unless urgent action is taken and a move to ‘high’ from the current ‘medium’ level is made sooner rather than later.
Essex has seen a significant increase in the number of cases, and rates in nearly all districts are now rising.
The majority of the cases are in younger people but the council emphasised that rates among the oder population are also increasing.
Hospital admissions are rising too and deaths are now being reported.
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Council bosses say that without action, hospitals in the county will be under increased pressure meaning that people with other serious conditions like cancer too will suffer.
Leader of Essex County Council, Cllr David Finch, who also Chairs the Essex Covid-19 Engagement Board, said:
By acting now, we can hope to stem this increase, limiting the time that we are in these enhanced restrictions and – above all – avoiding further escalation into ‘Very High’. All of this will limit the damage to the economy; a healthy economy is critical to everyone having better lives in future.
"We already have one of the best track and trace operations in the country, but we will also be aiming to push its performance still higher alongside strengthening enforcement capacity and visibility. Making these painful decisions now will, we hope, bring dividends later.”
Cllr John Spence, ECC’s Cabinet Member for Adults and Health, added: “We need both to look ahead and across the whole system. The advice from our Director of Public Health is compelling – that without action now, we can expect to see continuing doubling of rates week after week, and these increases will be followed by on-going growth in hospital admissions and, most horribly of all, deaths. It is critical that we enable the hospitals and the NHS as a whole not just to cope with Covid, but to avoid yet further backlogs in other aspects of critical care.”
Dr Mike Gogarty, Essex’s Director of Public Health and Wellbeing, said: “Across the county we have moved from gradual to exponential growth with number of cases rising exponentially. We want act now to minimise the impact on the public health and the economy and by doing so we believe we can shorten the period of enhanced restrictions.”
The request, which will go to the Secretary of State today (Tuesday, October 13), has the support of leaders from across the county council’s area, along with MPs and the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner.