LABOUR leaders have made a number of demands to Goverment ministers in a bid to curb rising Covid rates in Essex.

Council chiefs and opposition leaders united from across the county to write to Health Secretary Matt Hancock demanding five measures are introduced.

These are as follows:

  • To boost capacity of lateral flow testing
  • To test everyone once, on a weekly basis
  • Use supermarket and council car parks for testing sites
  • To ensure manufacturers and large businesss report how many staff have been tested and how many of those are positive each week
  • Increase the money given to those are isolating as part of test and trace


The letter, from Gavin Callaghan, leader of Basildon Council, Ian Gilbert, leader of Southend Council, Mark Ingall - the leader of Harlow Council, Tina Bourne - the Labour Leader of Colchester Council, and Ivan Henderson - the Labour leader at Essex County Council, reads: "Covid deaths in Essex hospitals have risen sharply from 44 in the week ending 20th December to over 150 in the week ending the 29th December.

"On December we were the first county to be forced to declare a major incident at our hospitals.

"Since then, patients have been transferred to Cambridge and even further afield. Currently, despite urgent measures, there are still more than 1,000 people in our hospitals being treated with confirmed Covid.

"You will be aware that Southend Hospital has had a “critical situation” regarding Oxygen capacity. Our local NHS is under pressure like never before.

"On 15th October you committed to lateral flow testing in Essex, and although we are now seeing testing being rolled out across Essex, I am sure you will share our dismay that it taken so long to set this up and is not yet at the capacity needed.