Only one neighbourhood across south Essex has a higher infection rate than the national average. 

All but three areas in the region have been removed from the Government's Covid hotspots map due to recording fewer than three new cases in the week ending April 21. 

Blenheim Park is the only one of those three areas which is recording an infection rate (53.9 cases per 100,000 people) above the national average. 

Kursaal (24.3) and Rayleigh North East (36.3) are the only other two areas in the region where the infection rate is not considered 'supressed'. 

Across all of Southend, there were only 12 new cases of Covid-19 confirmed in the seven days ending April 22 - down from 33 the week before. 

There were 21 new cases in the Basildon borough - a drop from 29 the week before. 

Castle Point saw 11 new cases recorded and Rochford 10. 

Infection rates remain low across Essex and the East of England despite the easing of lockdown two weeks ago. 

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Shoppers are said to be making more trips to supermarkets and buying less online as a result of the change in rules and the vaccine rollout.

The latest figures from Kantar show that online supermarket sales growth has halved since the height of the pandemic, to 46%, while the number of trips to grocery stores rose by 4% month on month in the four weeks to April 18.

Kantar said older shoppers accounted for nearly half of the rise in so-called footfall to stores, with much of the over-65 community now vaccinated.

Overall supermarket sales rose by 5.7% to £31.6 billion in the 12 weeks to April 18, in a further slowdown in the rate of growth seen a year earlier when shoppers panic-bought at the start of the coronavirus crisis.

But one-month figures showed a return to growth, with take-home grocery sales rising by 6.5% in the four weeks to April 18.

Fraser McKevitt, head of retail and consumer insight at Kantar, said: “There is a growing sense that the worst of the pandemic is behind us and people are becoming more comfortable with venturing out to the supermarket.” He added:

“While the market may fluctuate between growth and decline in the months ahead, depending on the year-on-year comparison being made, the fact that trip numbers are up and basket sizes down suggests that habits are slowly returning to normal.”

There was also some cheer for shoppers’ budgets, as the data revealed grocery prices falling by 0.3% – the first drop since December 2016.

“This is largely down to promotions, as retailers prioritised filling shelves over running deals last year,” said Mr McKevitt.