Concern is rising over the number of coronavirus cases in Epping Forest as the district approaches the level where extra lockdown measures are considered.

Brentwood and Epping Forest have recorded the highest number of new lab-confirmed Covid-19 cases in Essex.

The county’s director of public health said he was “very concerned” with the rising figures.

He warned the two areas are in danger of “quickly escalating” and having localised lockdown measures enforced.

Over the past two weeks there were 40 new cases per 100,000 in Brentwood while Epping Forest posted 36.

There is no defined level of infection that triggers new restrictions, but if an area records more than 50 coronavirus cases per 100,000 people, it is likely extra restrictions will be considered.

Dr Mike Goggarty, director of public health at Essex County Council, said: “We can’t attribute these cases to a particular event, area or outbreak which makes me even more concerned. Cases appear to be random across both districts which makes it much more difficult to contain and prevent further spread.

“Even though on the surface some may not think that these numbers are high enough to warrant concern, however, the figures have to be seen in relation the rate of infection too. If every one of the cases infects a further one or two people, then this will very quickly escalate.”

A week ago, the rate of infection in Epping Forest was down at 25.8 per 100,000 cases which equated to 34 new infections a week.

However, the districts figures are still way behind parts of the country where targeted lockdown measures have been introduced.

In Knowsley, England’s worst affected area, there were 422 new cases posted on seven days – the equivalent of 279.7 cases per 100,000 people.

Cllr John Spence, Epping Forest District cabinet member for health, said: “We knew that coronavirus cases would rise across the county. However, even with this happening, our cases are at or below the national average and that is where we want to remain.

“Better still, let’s buck the trend and start pushing the numbers down. That will only happen if everyone one of us stick to the core messages – keep your distance, if you can’t, then wear a face mask. Keep washing those hands and self-isolate when asked or if you have symptoms.”

Dr Goggarty added: “To prevent spread and the need for further measures it is important people in these areas take particular action to prevent spread. It is particularly vital that where possible people who can work from home do so and advise their employers why this is so important.

“Where people need to commute especially using public transport it is asked please that you download and use the Covid App. This will allow your identification if you are in contact with a case so you can avoid contact with others who may at high risk.

“Please wear masks where you can, wash hands regularly and especially keep 2 metres apart from others. If you have symptoms you must self-isolate and book a test as soon as possible.”


Epping Forest Guardian:

For more breaking news, local headlines and features, ‘like’ our Facebook page.

We also have a Twitter account: @EppingFGuardian

Follow us to keep up-to-date with news in Epping Forest.