Dozens of further cases of the Delta variant of coronavirus have been recorded in Southend, new figures reveal.

The UK Health Security Agency said vaccines are breaking the link between cases and hospitalisations nationally, but urged people to continue to be cautious.

Public Health England figures show 88 cases of the Delta variant – first identified in India – had been recorded in Southend by June 23.

That was 37 more than the 51 cases recorded the week before.

Those identified in the latest week were among at least 4,932 cases of the variant recorded across the East of England – the eighth-worst affected of England's nine regions.

The North West continued to have the highest numbers identified, with 38,189 Delta variant cases recorded there.

Across the UK, 35,204 more cases were recorded in the last week to reach a total of 111,157 – a 46% increase.

Of these, 42 are the so-called Delta plus variant, which India’s health ministry has said spreads more easily, binds more easily to lung cells and is potentially resistant to some drug therapy which can help neutralise the virus.

But while the Delta variant now accounts for around 95% of new cases sequenced in the UK, PHE said vaccines continue to have a “crucial effect on hospital admission and death”.

A further 514 people were admitted to hospital in England with Covid-19 in the week up to June 21. Of these, 304 were unvaccinated.

Dr Jenny Harries, chief executive of the UK Health Security Agency, said: “Through the success of our vaccination programme, data suggest we have begun to break the link between cases and hospitalisations. This is hugely encouraging news, but we cannot become complacent.

“Two doses of vaccine are far more effective against Covid-19 than a single dose, so please make sure that you come forward to get your second dose as soon as you are invited."

PHE also said a further variant, Lambda, is under investigation due to a rise in international cases and several notable mutations.

Six cases of the Lambda strain have been identified in the UK, all of which have been linked to overseas travel.

PHE said tests were ongoing and there is currently no evidence that this variant causes more severe disease or renders vaccines less effective.

The body also said the figures for variants this week are likely to be an underestimate owing to an operational issue being investigated by the Wellcome Sanger Institute on potential cross-contamination of a number of positive Covid-19 samples.

PHE said these samples were PCR tested before they were sent to the Sanger Institute, meaning people have received their correct test result and positive cases told to isolate.

Coronavirus cases up

The number of recorded coronavirus cases in Southend increased by 20 in 24 hours, official figures show.

Public Health England figures show that 15,127 people had been confirmed as testing positive for Covid-19 by 9am on Friday (June 25) in Southend, up from 15,107 the same time on Thursday.

The health body recently changed the way it records the figures.

Cases identified through a positive lateral flow test – those which can deliver results within half an hour – will no longer be counted if the person then takes a PCR test, which is sent to a lab to be checked, and receives a negative result within three days.

These cases are now being removed daily.

The rate of infection in Southend now stands at 8,261 cases per 100,000 people, higher than the England average of 7,271.

Across the UK, the number of recorded cases increased by 15,296 over the period, to 4,699,868 – though Public Health Scotland warned around 1,000 cases may have been delayed in being reported in Scotland.

Southend's cases were among the 402,874 recorded across the East of England, a figure which rose by 744 over the period.

Cumulative case counts include patients who are currently unwell, have recovered and those that have died.

Latest on coronavirus jabs

Three in five people in Southend have received two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine, figures reveal.

NHS data shows 87,448 people had received both jabs by June 20 – 59% of those aged 16 and over, based on the latest population estimates from the Office for National Statistics.

Of those to have received both jabs, 85,270 were aged 25 and over – 65% of the age group.

It means 2,178 people aged between 16 to 25 have received both doses.

The NHS vaccine data also reveals variation in coverage for residents who had received at least one dose between different areas across Southend.

Across Southend, 77% of those aged 16 and over have had one jab.

Areas with the highest coverage:

1) West Leigh, with 84% of people aged 16 and over given their first dose

2) Thorpe Bay, 83.9%

3) Southchurch, 82.8%

Areas with the lowest coverage:

1) Kursaal, 65.2%

2) Southend Central, 67.6%

3) Victoria, 68.9%

Across England, 26.4 million people had received a second dose of the jab by June 20 – 58% of the population aged over 16 and over.

That includes 25.6 million people aged 25 and over – 65% of the age group.

In total, 35.9 million people had received at least one dose of a vaccine by the same date, covering 79% of people over 16.

Despite the success of the rollout, some staff at care homes in Southend have not been vaccinated.

The figures show 1,507 out of 1,770 eligible staff, including agency workers, at older adult care homes had received a first dose by June 20 – meaning 15% have not had a jab.

The Government is currently in consultation over plans to make the jab mandatory for staff over concerns for residents.