Commuters are being urged to work from home as coronavirus cases continue to rise in Epping Forest.

The rate of infection in the district is now well above 100 cases per 100,000 people.

Between October 15 – 22 Epping Forest posted 168 new lab-confirmed infections ¬– an infection rate of 127.6.

“We are seeing far more serious situations in other parts of the country, but the restrictions we are currently under in our district, – as part of Essex – give us the best chance of reducing the R number and getting cases down fast”, said Epping Forest District Council’s leader Chris Whitbread.

“The impact of doing this sooner rather than later is substantial, for example a car brakes much quicker at 20mph than 70mph!

“But we will only hammer down the R number if people work from home wherever possible and agree to restrict household contacts. If we do not, cases will carry on rising at an alarming rate.”

In Essex, the R value based on current growth rates of cases is 1.27, and it needs to be below 1 to reverse the spread of the disease.

The council is urging commuters to work from home were possible. Health officials believe this could reduce the R rate by 0.2 to 0.4.

Reducing contact between households may also reduce the R rate by another 0.1 to 0.2, council health bosses said.

Cllr Whitbread said: “I know not everybody is happy with the current situation but I would like to make an appeal to be courteous and respectful to each other. We can only get through this if we pull together as a community, looking after each other – and continuing to support our families, friends, colleagues and local businesses – the backbone of our local economy.”

The district, and Essex as a whole, is currently at a ‘high’ Covid alert level – Tier 2 of the Government’s banding system.

The county was moved in Tier 2 because cases are rising rapidly across the county – doubling every 1 to 2 weeks across all age groups.

Epping Forest council leader added: “We need to slow the spread of Covid-19 to reduce the risk to our family and friends and ourselves. It is vitally important that our NHS does not have to postpone treatment to people with other health needs, including cancer patients.

“We must follow these rules all the time, even if we are seeing friends or family who live in a medium alert level area, because the restrictions apply to us as an Essex resident.”

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