BASILDON’S coronavirus infection rate has more than doubled in just three weeks as new figures confirm 19 patients died in hospital in the last week.

In Basildon, in the most recent seven-day period, 278 cases were confirmed, taking the borough’s infection rate to 148.5, a significant rise from 106.3 recorded in the previous seven-day period to October 16.

Just three weeks ago the rate in the borough was 68.9.

It comes as four new deaths were recorded at Basildon Hospital in the latest 24-hour period, taking the death toll at the hospital to 339. Tragically, that means 19 people have now died in the last week.

That figure is likely to climb higher in comparison to Southend Hospital as the hospital has been allocated as the specialist Covid-19 treatment centre for south Essex.

Hospital bosses also confirmed yesterday that three Covid patients entered the 48-bed Specialist Care Centre on ventilators.

Up until this week, the 48-bed facility remained empty

However, hospital bosses have assured residents there is still more capacity and the hospital is open for other patients to receive care for whatever they need.

Tom Abell, deputy chief executive for the Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust that runs Basildon, Southend and Broomfield Hospitals, said: “Our staff have been working tirelessly for many months to prepare for a second wave of Covid so we can give the best care in the right place for our patients.

Clacton and Frinton Gazette:

Prepared - Tom Abell says staff have been working tirelessly for many months to prepare for a second wave of Covid

“We have created the MSE Specialist Care Centre at Basildon Hospital to improve care for those most seriously ill from Covid, with 48 beds for patients needing ventilators should the need arise.

“Three of these beds are currently in use, meaning that we have capacity available for those that may need them in the future.

“This approach to Covid-19 critical care at Basildon Hospital has been held up as an example of best practice across the NHS.

“We invested in reorganising wards and departments so that we can keep patients safe across the hospital, and can continue to care for everyone who needs treatment – not just those with Covid-19.

“Basildon Hospital continues to welcome patients, all our services remain open, and those who need emergency care or have appointments with us should absolutely come to the hospital.

“We have restricted some visiting to help protect patients, visitors and staff.”

In comparison with Basildon, 126 new cases were confirmed Castle Point, with a rate of 139.4. And in Rochford there were 79, a rate rise of 44 and 11.5.

In Southend, where the Covid alert level remains at “medium”, there were 161 cases recorded, a rise from 128 recorded the previous week, with a rate of infection of 87.9.

The areas of Essex under Essex County Council went into ‘high’ alert level on October 17.

Prof Sir Mark Walport, former chief scientific advisor to the government, said: “The number of cases is rising very significantly – it was 22,800 on October 27 and the seven-day average was just over 22,000. So there are an awful lot of cases. One of the differences of course is that we are better at looking after people with coronavirus now.”

“And so hopefully the case fatality rate will be lower than it was in the first wave. But at the end of the day, the fatality rate, the number of people who die, is a product of the number of people who are infected and their vulnerability.”