THE South African variant of the coronavirus detected in south Essex was an isolated case, it has been confirmed.

Essex Council County has made assurances that only one case of the "highly transmissible" Covid variant has been found in the county so far.

Surge testing is now being rolled out in the CM13 postcode in Brentwood, which is where the case was recently discovered.

It is the latest deployment of surge testing in England in a bid to control and suppress the potential spread of virus variants.

People are “strongly encouraged” to accept the offer of a test, whether or not they have symptoms of the virus.

An Essex County Council spokesman said: "Only one case of the South African variant of the virus has been detected in Essex so far, which was in Brentwood."

He added the testing will help officials understand and limit any potential spread of the new variant within the local community.

It is an approach that has successfully been used in other parts of the country to help curb the South African variant.

The latest data shows six new coronavirus deaths have been recorded at the trust which runs Colchester Hospital.

NHS England figures show 1,152 people had died in hospital at East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust as of 5pm on Sunday (February 21).

That was an increase of six compared to Friday, when there were 1,146.

It means there have been 28 deaths in the past week, down from 74 the previous week.

The victims were among 9,849 deaths recorded across the East of England.

Daily death counts are revised each day, with each case backdated to the actual date of death.

This means some of the deaths that were first recorded in the latest period may actually have taken place days earlier.

NHS England guidance states confirmation of Covid diagnosis, death notification and reporting in central figures can take up to several days and the hospitals providing the data are under significant operational pressure.

As of yesterday, the total number of confirmed Covid cases in Essex was 109,272.

NHS England data shows 1,844,685 first and second doses of the vaccines have been administered to residents across the East of England to date.

The Government now hopes to have vaccinated all of the adult population of the UK by July 31.

More than 17.2 million people have now received their first dose of a vaccine at one of the 1,500 vaccination sites across the country, and 600,000 have received their second.

Public Health England has been contacted for comment.

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