THE number of coronavirus cases in Essex has risen by more than 2,000 after they were not initially reported in the Government figures.

Data on the number of cases was updated on Thursday night.

It is the first time it has included tests carried out in the wider community, known as pillar 2.

These are tests which have been done using a home testing kit or at a drive-through centre.

Previously only laboratory tests had been counted.

It means across Essex there have now been 6,496 positive cases - up from the 4,278 previously reported.

In the Essex County Council area there are now 5,316 confirmed cases an increase of 1,886.

In Southend it is now 461 - an increase of 180 cases.

For Thurrock the figure is now 539. This is an increase of 149.

It comes as Essex County Council and Southend-on-Sea Borough Council launched their local contact tracing service.

The Essex and Southend Contact Tracing Service is one of the first local systems launched by any authority areas in the country.

However, both Essex and Southend’s public health chiefs have warned vigilance is still needed.

Director for Public Health at Essex County Council, Dr Mike Gogarty said: “ We are very proud to launch our local track and trace system but we aren’t out of the woods yet and I want to make it clear that we should all be doing everything we can to limit further spread of infection.

“This means sticking to the current social distancing advice at 2m wherever possible, self-isolating when informed to do so, strictly keeping to ‘bubbles’, washing hands regularly and maintaining everyone’s hard work over the past three months.”