Southend’s rate of coronavirus infection is now double what it was on the day England went into its second lockdown, new figures have revealed.

In the borough, the case rate per 100,000 population is now 180.2 but on November 5 it was just 88.5.

Health bosses say this is partly due to people flouting the rules before the second lockdown.

Basildon Standard:

It comes as Basildon has been highlighted as a Covid-19 hotspot where cases continue to rise - despite cases across much of the county “levelling off”.

Essex County Council public health director Dr Mike Gogarty has raised concerns on the situation in the area after the rate reached the highest point since the beginning of the pandemic.

Ian Gilbert, Labour leader of Southend Council, said: “It’s certainly concerning to see these figures but we are not out of step from the rest of the country and still below the national average.

Basildon Standard:

A map showing the area of highest cases from Southend Council shows Chalkwell and Westborough are worst affected, with both recording up to 18 new cases in the last week.

While areas such as Eastwood Park and Thorpe have only 6.

“But there is still huge cause for concern. We still do not know about the next move – I think sadly restraints may remain and be heavier than before lockdown.”

He added: “If cases keep rising, we cannot reduce restrictions but if the lockdown has worked we should see some flattening, there is some evidence of this but it’s too early to say.”

When asked whether Southend should have followed Essex County Council by moving into the more stringent Tier 2 in October, Mr Gilbert disagreed.

Despite cases across across levelling off, he said there is not enough evidence to prove it has worked in reducing cases.

Trevor Harp, Independent councillor for Health and Adult Social Care said rule breakers were a large contributing factor to the rise in cases. He said: “We are seeing this rise as it was before the lockdown with the trigger around Halloween.

“People were making the most of being able to get out before the lockdown. I think increases like this are always concerning.

Basildon Standard:

Testing times - cases continue to rise in Southend and Basildon

“We are seeing a different lockdown compared the first one and some people are not taking it as seriously; that maybe why we’ve seen this increase.”

Tony Cox, leader of the Southend Conservatives, weighed in behind Mr Harp, adding: “I do not think we should have followed the rest of Essex County Council into Tier 2 as we went on the rates at the time.

“There was no logical reason to do this. For deciding what tier is next we need to take a broader look and consider things like the elderly.

“I do not know what tier we will be going into and it could be different system but I hope we can all get together and do our bit and get the lowest tier as possible – as this is good for mental health and jobs.”

Krishna Ramkhelawon, Southend Council’s Director of Public Health, admitted even he is “non-the-wiser” on the Government’s post-lockdown plans adding: “We have been advised that we will be consulted imminently before the PM makes a formal announcement this week.

He added: “All we know is that the tiers will have stricter measures and that lockdown will formally be known as Tier 4.”

Last month it was announced parts of Essex would be raised into Tier 2 Covid restrictions, moving from Tier 1 - medium alert - to Tier 2 - high alert - mean a ban on households mixing indoors, including in pubs, while the Rule of Six still applies outdoors.

The additional restrictions do not apply to Southend or Thurrock, which are unitary authorities.

- but all senior councillors

say they cannot predict what comes rules will be enforced when the second lockdown ends.