ALMOST 70 new cases of coronavirus have been confirmed across Essex. 

The number of recorded coronavirus cases in the whole of the county - which includes the Essex County Council area, Southend and Thurrock - increased by 67 over the weekend, official Public Health England figures show.

In Southend, the number increased by 11, taking its total number of confirmed cases to 672, up from 661 the same time on Friday.

In the Essex County Council area, a further 51 cases were confirmed, taking the total number to 5,434 confirmed cases, up from 5,383 on Friday. 

In Thurrock, confirmed cases increased by five, to 551, up from 546 on Friday.

The health body is now including Pillar 2 tests – those carried out by commercial partners – alongside Pillar 1 tests, which are analysed in NHS or PHE laboratories and which made up the first stage of the Government's mass testing programme.

The rate of infection in Southend now stands at 368 cases per 100,000 people, far lower than the England average of 447.

In the Essex County Council area, it is 368 cases per 100,000 people while in Thurrock, it is 319 cases per 100,000 people.