THE number of people being treated for Covid-19 in south and mid Essex hospitals has hit a six-month high.

NHS figures show there were 93 coronavirus patients across Basildon, Broomfield and Southend hospitals as of Tuesday, September 7.

That is the highest number since March 16 when there were 112.

However, the latest figure has only increased by two compared to last week, and is someway short of the nearly 1,000 Covid patients in the three hospitals during the peak of the second wave in January.

Eight of those being treated at the Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust are currently on a ventilator.

Across the whole of the UK there are 8,085 coronavirus patients in hospital right now, with 1,060 of those on ventilators.

A rise in cases and Covid patients in England has led to speculation there could be a short lockdown introduced in October to bring those figures down.

But Health Secretary Sajid Javid insisted yesterday that strict rules seen in the past 18 months would not be brought back.

One expert has said reducing the size of gatherings is likely to be the first measure considered if infections and hospitalisations continue to rise.

Dr Mike Tildesley also told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that if any short lockdown is considered, shutting schools would not be a priority.

“Schools would not be top of the list of things we’d consider to shut in this scenario,” he said.

Dr Tildesley, a professor in infectious disease modelling at the University of Warwick, added that, with children back in schools, it is “really important to monitor data”.

“It’s not just children in the classroom, it’s what children going back to school means for people,” he said.

With pupils back in class, more parents will go back to work, which Dr Tildesley said could also have an impact on what the Government decides to do as people return to offices.

He added that it should be kept in mind that, outside of the pandemic, “hospital admissions rise in the autumn anyway”.