THE number of people in hospital with coronavirus in mid and south Essex has dropped by a third in the past week.

The latest NHS England data shows Southend, Basildon and Broomfield hospitals were caring for a combined 163 coronavirus patients in hospital as of Tuesday.

That was down from 245 on the same day the previous week.

The number of beds at Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust occupied by people who tested positive for Covid-19 increased by 24% in the last four weeks – 28 days ago, there were 131.

Across England there were 16,218 people in hospital with Covid as of January 18, with 614 of them in mechanical ventilation beds.

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

The figures also show that 192 new Covid patients were admitted to hospital in Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust in the week to January 16.

This was down from 216 in the previous seven days.

It comes as coronavirus testing for fully vaccinated travellers arriving in England will be axed, Boris Johnson has announced.

The Prime Minister did not confirm when the travel rules will be eased, but it is likely to happen before the February half-term break.

This will be a major boost for travel firms and families planning an overseas trip.

On a visit to Milton Keynes Hospital on Monday, Mr Johnson said: “What we’re doing on travel, to show that this country is open for business, open for travellers, you will see changes so that people arriving no longer have to take tests if they have been vaccinated, if they have been double vaccinated.”

Industry body Airlines UK said it was a “landmark day”.

The announcement only applies to England, but the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have recently implemented Westminster’s changes to international travel rules.

Fully vaccinated arrivals must currently pre-book and take a post-arrival test from a private supplier.

This can be a lateral flow test, which typically costs around £19.