More than a dozen neighbourhoods in south Essex are recording more than 200 Covid cases a week.

The latest figures show infections are showing no sign of subsiding, with all borough and districts in the region recording a weekly rise of at least 20 per cent.

Thurrock remains the worst affected area, having recorded 3,722 new cases in the seven days ending December 27.

Basildon recorded 3,403 new cases in that same period, Southend 3,121, Rochford 1,651 and Castle Point 1,495.

With infection rates in south Essex among the highest in the country, several neighbourhoods have seen the number of weekly cases pass the 200 mark.

They are:

  • St Lukes 208
  • Victoria 231
  • Chalkwell 201
  • Leigh 232
  • Westborough 215
  • Laindon West and Southfields 203
  • Hockley and Hawkwell West 282
  • Stanford West 203
  • Chadwell St Mary 235
  • Tilbury 304
  • Grays Chafford Gorges 213
  • Stifford Clays 215
  • Purfleet, South Stifford and Lakeside 319
  • South Ockendon 240

It comes as an Essex MP has said he fears mask-wearing in schools could damage children’s mental health as the Government insisted the extra precaution would help keep pupils learning.

Conservative Robert Halfon, chair of the Commons education select committee, said the risks from Covid-19 need to be balanced against the risks to children’s wellbeing.

He made the comments as the Government announced masks will return for secondary school students in England’s classrooms on a temporary basis this term. 

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Speaking to the PA News Agency, Mr Halfon said: “My concern about masks is, first of all, that… (children’s minister) Will Quince came to my committee in December and said that there was very limited evidence as to the efficacy of masks in educational settings.

“Even Jonathan Van-Tam said in November – so I’m not quoting from two years ago, before everyone knew what was going on – that masks were really inhibitory to the natural expressions of learning in children involving speech and facial expression, and that it’s very difficult for children with face masks.

“The (National Deaf Children’s Society) has said that they’re worried… that deaf children’s education will suffer disproportionately under the mask advice.”