THE number of people in hospitals in mid and south Essex with coronavirus has risen to its highest point in 11 months.

NHS England data shows the number of Covid patients at Southend, Basildon and Broomfield hospitals as of Tuesday was 259.

That was an increase of 90 on the week before.

It means the overall number of Covid patients being treated by the Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust is at it’s highest level since February 23 last year.

There were 267 patients with Covid at the trust on that day, with 247 reported the day after.

The latest NHS figures also show that 223 new Covid patients were admitted to Southend, Basildon and Broomfield hospitals in the week to January 2.

This was up from 170 in the previous seven days.

Across England there were 15,044 people in hospital with Covid as of January 4, with 797 of them in mechanical ventilation beds.

The number of Covid-19 patients hospitalised nationally has more than doubled in the last four weeks, while the number on mechanical ventilators has increased by 1%.

Staff absences from hospital due to Covid continues to be the main concern for health bosses as cases soar around the country.

Boris Johnson still sees no need for further Covid restrictions in England despite rising staff absences in the NHS due to the virus, Downing Street has said.

After the Ministry of Defence announced the deployment of 200 troops to assist hospitals in London, a No 10 spokesman said ministers would ensure the health service had the support it needed.

However, he said the Covid booster jab programme meant there was not the same level of pressure on intensive care units seen in previous waves.

“The Prime Minister has been clear on controls. Plan B is balanced and proportionate to respond to the Omicron variant. It is continuing to help reduce its spread. But the important thing is the booster programme and the effectiveness it has in stopping the disease,” the spokesman said.

He added: “The military have helped out throughout the pandemic and they will do so again. We know that staff absences are contributing to the pressure the NHS is currently facing. Of course we will continue to take appropriate measures to ensure the NHS has the support they need.”