This week saw the return of mask wearing in some circumstances after a new variant of Covid was found in Essex.

An online ‘Covid calculator’ predicts how many cases of Covid Essex will be seeing in the lead up to Christmas.

The Imperial College London map predicts by December 12 most areas in Essex will be seeing more than 300 cases a week.

The map gives a prediction of how likely each area will be seeing more than 500 cases a week.

Here is the breakdown for Essex:

  • Colchester – 55% chance
  • Tendring – 52% chance
  • Braintree – 71% chance
  • Maldon – 90% chance
  • Chelmsford – 49% chance
  • Southend – 81% chance
  • Basildon – 81% chance
  • Rochford – 72% chance
  • Castle Point – 71% chance
  • Thurrock – 81% chance

What is the situation now?

The data also shows which areas are seeing infections likely increasing.

Maldon, Southend, Basildon and Thurrock all show a more than 90% likelihood infections are currently increasing.

In Braintree and Rochford it is 83% and in Castle Point it is 82%.

In other areas of Essex the direction is unclear but there is a 50% likelihood cases are increasing.

The website uses data on daily reported cases and weekly reported deaths and mathematics modelling to report a probability that a local authority will become a hotspot in the following week.

The predictions do assume no change in current interventions (lockdowns, school closures, and others) in a local authority beyond those already taken about a week before the end of observations.

The Omicron variant – what we know

One of the first cases of Omicron was detected in Brentwood over the weekend.

The Brentwood case is said to be linked to the other infection in Nottingham, with that individual understood to have arrived from southern Africa before coming into contact with the person in Essex.

Essex County Council said targeted testing was being focused on customers, staff and delivery drivers at a KFC in Brentwood on November 19 and congregants at a church two days later.

Children at a primary school were also tested for the new variant.

Essex County Council said “necessary precautionary action” – including switching to remote learning for one class – has been taken at Larchwood Primary School in Pilgrims Hatch to prevent the spread of Covid-19.