NEARLY 200 hospital beds across Essex are occupied by Covid-19 patients as admissions rose by more than 50 per cent in a week.

Essex County Council has confirmed 191 hospital beds in the county are taken up by Covid-19 patients as of Tuesday.

This is 55 per cent higher than the number recorded on October 20.

County Hall is publishing weekly updates on coronavirus cases in the county following the move to “high” alert tier on October 17, meaning households cannot mix indoors.

As of this week, three Covid-19 patients in the specialist ward at Basildon Hospital are using ventilators.

The council has previously stated it would take three to four weeks to see if the move has an impact on the number of cases.

In the seven days to October 22, there were 1,596 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Essex. This is the latest date for which complete data is available.

On the same date, the weekly case rate (the number of cases recorded in the preceding seven days per 100,000 population) for Essex is 107.2.

The highest weekly case rates were in Brentwood and Castle Point, with rates of 154.5 and 150.5, respectively.

The rate of infection in Thurrock now stands at 862 cases per 100,000 people with a total of 1,503 people confirmed with the virus as of 9am yesterday, with Southend having 1,418.

Both Southend and Thurrock remain in “medium” tier alert.

Dr Mike Gogarty, County Hall’s director of Public Health, said: “Sadly but not unexpectedly, the number of coronavirus cases in Essex now exceeds 100 per 100,000.

“A month ago this would be considered one of the highest in the country, and it’s important that we do what we can to prevent further increases in Essex to the sort of levels we’re now seeing in the North East and North West.”

Dr Gogarty said the cases were rising in the older population, meaning more people are requiring intensive care beds in hospital.

He said: “While these numbers are not high at the moment, they’re certainly going in the wrong direction and it’s something we’re concerned about over the next few weeks.”

Between October 19 and 24, there were 21 deaths from Covid-19 in Essex hospitals.

Dr Gogarty stressed it’s important for people to “work together” to get the rate of infection down and getting the county back to normality.