COUNCIL chiefs are “preparing for the worst” fearing coronavirus cases will peak again during the colder months, through to the new year.

The warning comes after Dr. Mike Gogarty, director of public health in Essex, raised concerns cases could rise again in October or November during a meeting with fellow councillors this week.

Mr Gogarty believes a local lockdown could be necessary should this happen, with bosses at Southend Council now “preparing for the worst”.

With cases now at a low, councils are reminding the public just how crucial the two-metre rule could be in preventing a second wave of Covid-19.

Trevor Harp, cabinet member for health and adult social care in Southend, said: “We’re planning for the worst and hoping for the best.

“What normally happens with these sorts of viruses is that they can rise again in the winter. If we see a rise like there was with the initial coronavirus pandemic combined with a winter flu epidemic, we could be in serious trouble.

To prevent this from happening, we are doing a lot of planning around flu vaccines, especially for those who are aged 50 and over as well as for the vulnerable, and we’re ensuring PPE stocks are replaced. “It would be negligent of us if we didn’t make these provisions. Our case levels are far from what they were at the height of the pandemic, but we still have to be careful.”

Dr Mike Gogarty, said: “Currently levels of coronavirus identified in Essex are low, at about one per 100,000 people per day and are slowly reducing. However, it’s very important everyone maintains social distancing, ideally at two metres, observe hand hygiene, self-isolate and get a test if they show symptoms.

“As winter approaches there is likely to be an increase in cases due to schools going back, people meeting indoors instead of outside, and the virus showing seasonal aggressiveness, just like other viruses.

“We may need specific restrictions, which may include local lockdowns.”