CORONAVIRUS testing has been ramped up across Braintree following a spike in the number of daily cases.

A total of 30 positive tests were performed in the district between July 8 and 10.

The issue has been highlighted by the University of East Anglia’s Alastair Grant in a report published online earlier this week.

He states the number of cases reported in Braintree is “unusually” high compared to recent trends in the district.

It means Braintree currently has the 16th highest infection rate in the country and the highest in Essex.

The rate is still comparatively low compared to other parts of the UK and health experts insist the public should not be concerned.

Why has there been a spike in cases?

Essex County Council says the rise in coronavirus cases seen in Braintree this month has been down to an outbreak recorded in a care home.

County Hall's director of public health, Dr Mike Gogarty, said in a statement: "The increase in Covid-19 positive cases in Braintree is nothing to be concerned about.

"As we move into the next phase of the pandemic, and progress with the test and trace programme we will see spikes in cases in particular locations.

"The increase in positive cases in Braintree over recent days is largely explained by an outbreak in a local care home. We have contained this outbreak working through established processes

"Following identification of a very small number of individuals showing symptoms widespread testing of staff and residents was undertaken in line with current policy.

"Further cases were confirmed through this testing, the majority of these are showing no symptoms and feeling well.

"We have been made aware of this case and the Essex contract tracing team, alongside colleagues from Public Health England and our newly established care home hub to ensure all contacts of cases are identified and advised accordingly and to ensure optimal infection control measures within the home."

How many confirmed cases have there been in Braintree?

As of 4pm yesterday (Friday, July 17), there have been 476 positive tests carried out in Braintree since the pandemic began.

The figures are based on tests carried out in laboratories (pillar one of the Government's testing programme) and in the wider community such as home tests (pillar two).

Public Health England says the rate of infection in the Braintree district is 306 cases per 100,000 people.

How many deaths have there been?

Data from the Office for National Statistics shows 116 residents have died after contracting coronavirus.

The figures, which were correct as of July 3, show 86 deaths have occurred in hospital, 23 in care homes, five in private homes, one in a hospice and another elsewhere.

NHS England says the number of deaths reported at Braintree Hospital which have been linked to Covid-19 stands at six, while at Broomfield there have been 194 fatalities.

What's the message to residents?

Essex County Council insist people should not be alarmed by the rise in cases and say isolated outbreaks will become the new normal.

The number of cases remains low compared to areas like Leicester, which remains in a localised lockdown.

But residents are being urged to continue following health advice and guidelines.

Dr Gogarty said: "I would like to remind people that the best way to reduce the spread of the virus and protect ourselves and our loved ones is to follow social distancing measures ideally two metres, ensure regular handwashing and to book a test and self-isolate if you are experiencing symptoms which include a temperature, cough or change in taste or smell."

Braintree Council's health boss Petter Tattersley added: “With all the new relaxation of restrictions it is easy to assume that the virus has mostly gone away and that perhaps we are less vulnerable to infection

than we were earlier in the outbreak.

“The continuing relatively high number of cases in the Braintree district shows that families continue to be in danger of losing loved ones, and it must make sense to continue taking all the social distancing, hand-washing and mask-wearing advice that the medical experts continue to advise.”

Where can I access data on Covid-19?

Public Health England updates its dashboard on a daily basis and shows the number of confirmed cases in each area of the UK.

Essex County Council also has data on positive tests and the number of deaths on its website.