Essex area among UK coronavirus hotspots as new variant drives hospital admissions

Scientists have voiced concern over a new Covid variant increasing hospital admissions across the UK
-Credit: (Image: PA)

Scientists have raised the alarm over a new Covid variant driving up hospital admissions across the UK - as our map shows part of Essex has higher rates than almost anywhere else in the country. The KP 3 variant emerged in early April and belongs to a new group of COVID-19 variants, known collectively as FLiRT, which now make up a large proportion of cases.

New figures from the UKHSA show hospital admissions rose by 24 per cent in the week to Sunday, June 22, from a rate of 2.67 people per 100,000 to 3.31 per 100,000. The highest hospital admission rate for confirmed COVID-19 continues to be in those aged over 85 years, increasing to 34.70 per 100,000 following a short interval of decreases.

However, increases also occurred for those aged between 65 and 74 years, those aged between 75 and 84 years, and most of the younger age groups. Separate local authority area figures show that Castle Point now has the sixth highest rate of Covid infections in the country.

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In the week ending June 19, there were 12.26 infections for every 100,000 people living in Castle Point, a 10 per cent rise from the previous week. In Essex, rates were also high in Southend-on-Sea where infections almost doubled from 6.19 per 100,000 the previous week to 11.63, the ninth-highest rate in the country.

Stephanie Lawton, chief operating officer at The Princess Alexandra Hospital NHS Trust, told EssexLive: "We currently have a very low number of patients who are staying in hospital and have tested positive for Covid. We manage suspected and positive Covid cases in line with national guidance and local infection, prevention and control procedures to minimise the risk of further infection.

"This has not impacted on the delivery of our services and we continue to focus our efforts on providing high quality care and support for our patients."

Dr Angela Tillett, Chief Medical Officer at East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust, the organisation which runs Colchester and Ipswich hospitals, added: "We have seen a rise in COVID-19 infections recently in our hospitals, but we’re happy to say the numbers are now coming down.

"We have robust infection prevention and control measures in place across all our hospitals and services to manage and respond to these increases when they happen."

Mid and South Essex NHS Trust, who run Broomfield, Basildon and Southend hospitals, were contacted but had not responded at the time of publication.

Dr Jamie Lopez Bernal, Consultant Epidemiologist for Immunisation at UKHSA said: “We are seeing an increase in COVID-19 across all indicators, including hospitalisations. Those eligible only have until the 30 June 2024 to take up the offer of a vaccine, which helps boosts your protection against serious illness. So, make sure you book your vaccine as soon as possible, either online at or call 119 if you don’t have access to the internet.

"If you are 75 years or older, reside in a care home, or have a weakened immune system, you are eligible for your COVID-19 vaccine. If you are showing symptoms of COVID-19 or flu, help protect others by staying at home and avoiding contact with other people, especially those who are more vulnerable. If you do need to leave home, consider wearing a mask."