SOUTHEND is recording its highest weekly number of coronavirus cases since the height of the second wave of infections in January.

The borough recorded 811 new cases in the week ending November 17 – that’s up 20 per cent from last Tuesday.

It means the infection rate of 443.7 cases per 100,00 people is the highest it has been since January when a third national lockdown was enforced.

Thorpe Bay has seen the biggest increase in the last week, with cases more than doubling.

There have also been significant rises in West Shoebury, St Lukes and Westborough.

The neighbourhoods which have recorded a week-on-week increase in the seven days up to November 17 are:

  • Shoebury 49 cases (up 6)
  • West Shoebury 79 cases (up 21)
  • Thorpe Bay 57 cases (up 30)
  • St Lukes 55 cases (up 21)
  • Kursaal 47 cases (up 8)
  • Victoria 47 cases (up 4)
  • Westborough 75 cases (up 34)
  • Eastwood 50 cases (up 14)
  • Blenheim Park 45 cases (up 15)
  • West Leigh 42 cases (up 1)
  • Belfairs 32 cases (up 3)
  • Eastwood Park 45 cases (up 12)

Some areas have actually seen infections fall in the past week, with cases dropping by a third in Prittlewell.

The neighbourhoods which have seen a week-on-week drop in cases in the seven days up to November 17 are:

  • Great Wakering and Foulness 21 cases (down 3)
  • Southchurch 43 cases (down 3)
  • Southend Central 33 cases (down 4)
  • Chalkwell 26 cases (down 5)
  • Prittlewell 38 cases (down 15)
  • Leigh 38 cases (down 4)

People are now being urged to take a rapid Covid-19 test before mixing with others in “crowded indoor spaces”.

Previously the public was advised to use lateral flow tests twice-weekly.

But Government and NHS guidance on when to take a test has changed and it now urges people to take a test before mixing with people in crowded indoor places or before visiting a person who is at higher risk of getting seriously ill from Covid-19.

The advice comes ahead of the busy festive period where people will be spending more time seeing loved ones, shopping or going to Christmas parties.

People who develop symptoms of Covid-19 – including a new and persistent cough, a fever or a loss or change of taste or smell – are still encouraged to self-isolate and get a lab test, also known as a PCR test.

The advice on the Government website says that around one in three people who have Covid-19 do not have any symptoms, which means they could be spreading the virus without knowing.

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It urges people to use the free rapid lateral flow tests, which can be collected from pharmacies and are available online.

The advice adds: “You are at higher risk of catching or passing on Covid-19 in crowded and enclosed spaces, where there are more people who might be infectious and where there is limited fresh air.

“You may wish to take a rapid lateral flow test if it is expected that there will be a period of high risk that day.

“This includes spending time in crowded and enclosed spaces, or before visiting people who are at higher risk of severe illness if they get Covid-19.”

It adds that certain places such as health and social care settings, schools and prisons are likely to have their own specific testing rules and guidelines.

The guidance also urges people to take other precautions including letting fresh air in for indoor meetings and to wear face coverings in “crowded and enclosed areas where you come into contact with people you do not usually meet”.