FOUR neighbourhoods in Southend have seen a drop in coronavirus infections in the past week, offering hope the borough may be about to reach the peak of Omicron cases.

The latest data shows Southend recorded 3,456 new Covid cases in the seven days to December 30 – up 333 (10 per cent) from the week before.

It has an infection rate of 1,890 cases per 100,000 people.

Despite the continued rise in infections in recent weeks, several areas are now recording a weekly drop in cases.

They were:

  • West Leigh – 162 new cases

Down 36 (18 per cent)

  • Leigh – 199 new cases

Down 56 (22 per cent)

  • Eastwood Park – 144 new cases

Down 18 (11 per cent)

  • Chalkwell – 186 new cases

Down 17 (8 per cent)

It comes as coronavirus testing rules for people without symptoms are to be eased as Boris Johnson faces MPs to defend his plan to “ride out” the current Covid-19 wave.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said that from January 11, asymptomatic people in England who test positive will no longer require a confirmatory PCR test.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has led a Cabinet meeting where he recommended sticking with England’s Plan B despite record case numbers and rising pressure on hospitals.

The move announced by the UKHSA will free up capacity in laboratories for PCR tests for those who have Covid-19 symptoms.

People who receive a positive result on a lateral flow device (LFD) will be required to self-isolate immediately, without requiring PCR confirmation.

The UKHSA said it is a temporary measure while Covid-19 rates remain high across the UK.

Officials said that while levels of Covid-19 are high, the “vast majority” of people with positive LFD results can be confident they have the virus.

People who have Covid-19 symptoms should still get a PCR test, the UKHSA said.