SOUTHEND recorded a small drop in coronavirus cases in the last week for the first time this month.

Government data shows there were 1,258 new cases in the seven days to December 9 – 74 less than the week before.

The borough’s infection rate remains high and stands at 688 cases per 100,000 people.

That was similar to the same rate recorded in January during the height of the second wave.

Most neighbourhoods saw a drop in cases in the latest weekly period.

But Southend Central, St Lukes, Westborough, Chalkwell, Leigh and West Leigh all recorded a rise in infections.

Here is the latest data for each neighbourhood:

Great Wakering and Foulness

46 cases – down 20


9 cases – down 4

West Shoebury

73 cases - down 36

Thorpe Bay

67 cases – down 17


95 cases – down 3

St Lukes

93 cases – up 12


67 cases – down 21

Southend Central

68 cases – up 7


82 cases – down 6


76 cases – up 19


85 cases – up 10


66 cases – down 19


75 cases – down 12

Eastwood Park

59 cases – down 11


52 cases – down 20

Blenheim Park

79 cases – down 7


80 cases – up 27

West Leigh

62 cases – up 7

It comes as Essex MP Robert Halfon has warned school closures could be on the cards in the new year.

The Tory politician, who represents Harlow, said: “The four horsemen of the education apocalypse have been galloping towards our young people in the form of a widening attainment gap, an epidemic of mental health problems, a rise in safeguarding hazards and a loss of life chances.”

He asked what the plan is to keep schools open, and “hat measures are being taken to ensure that should education staff be required to isolate there is a network of supply teachers ready to step in?”

Mr Halfon said: “The Health Secretary is right to say that we should protect the NHS, but why can’t the Department for Education not say we have to protect our children’s futures, why don’t we have adverts about that?”

He said: “There’s a nationwide campaign for an army of NHS volunteers but not for education. Why is a similar army of retired teachers or Ofsted inspectors not being recruited to support schools struggling to cope with staffing requirements?

“Can we not have the same vision, the same passion, the same resource provision for the education service as we do for the National Health Service?”