ESSEX will have to wait another two weeks before seeing any positive signs of moving into the high alert tier.

The warning from county council health bosses come as the number of recorded coronavirus cases in the council area, which excludes Southend and Thurrock, increased by 253 between Monday and Tuesday.

It means there have now been 11,874 confirmed cases in the council area.

As a whole council area, the infection rate is now 797 cases per 100,000 people, still far lower than the England average of 1,420.

The county went into “high” alert on October 17, meaning separate households cannot socialise together indoors, such as in pubs and restaurants while non-essential travel is discouraged.

Despite this move being nearly two weeks ago, bosses at County Hall state they will not be able to assess the impact the new restrictions are having until weeks ahead.

A spokesman for Essex County Council said: “We would not have expected to see any impact from moving alert level at this early stage.

“This is because, given the epidemiology, any impact will not be seen until at least three to four weeks following the date we moved into high.

“The increase in hospital admissions and people requiring high dependency care is sadly expected as cases start to spread to older groups.

“It is essential that we all collectively adhere to the guidance to minimise the harm in Essex.

“This includes observing restrictions to different households mixing and by working from home wherever this is possible.”

However, Southend’s figures remain lower with 161 cases in the last seven days.

The borough is still in the “medium” alert tier, as Southend Council did not seek to be upgraded to “high” tier.

Thurrock also remains in “medium” tier alert.

Ian Gilbert, leader of Southend Council, said people were following the rules by the council is still on guard.

He said: “Our public health team are working extremely hard, we’re working closely with our businesses to make sure the existing regulations are followed. People are by and large behaving responsibly.

“I wouldn’t want to be complacent though, because figures are relatively low but cases are rising. These things are never 100 per cent, but by and large people are being responsible and businesses are being responsible.

“It’s still a real problem if we do let down our guard cases will rise even further.”

Essex County Council requested the UK government move the county into the “high” alert level earlier in October, citing the need to bring down the number of cases and prevent the hospitals from being overwhelmed and causing further economic damage down the line.