CONCERNS have been raised about the spread of Covid-19 after the Omicron variant was discovered in Essex.

Essex County Council has now revealed the discovery of the new strain was linked to Larchwood Primary School, in Pilgrims Hatch, near Brentwood.

Now, Colchester Council’s former leader Mark Cory has said a “perfect storm” is building with the new variant, colder weather and shops and social settings getting busier over the festive period.

Mr Cory, who led the council’s response during the peak of the pandemic, says local leadership and responsibility must be taken to ensure residents are protected.

“As Christmas approaches, our shops and High Street are once again getting busier,” he said. “This is great news for our businesses but bad news for the spread of Covid.

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“We must avoid a sharp winter peak of Covid, especially with the risk of a new variant around. We must take some simple steps now in order to avoid the drastic actions such as another lockdown in the future.

“I would definitely advise we wear masks indoors and go back to keeping two metres apart where possible.

“Working from home could be advised for the winter to reduce the chance of new variants spreading quickly among Colchester workplaces.”

In response to the Omicron variant’s presence in Essex, a branch of KFC in Brentwood High Street and Trinity Church in Pilgrim’s Hatch will now be the focus of targeted testing activity.

Dr Mike Gogarty, Essex County Council’s director of public health, said: “The aim is to understand what, if any, spread of the new variant within the local community may have occurred and limit the opportunity for any further spread.


“While this work takes place, it is important that everyone takes sensible precautions. Get a PCR test if you have symptoms, isolate when asked, wear a face covering in crowded and enclosed spaces, ventilate rooms, get your vaccine and boosters as soon as you can.

“It is important to break the chain of transmission as quickly as possible, which is the aim of the additional testing.

“Even if you are feeling well, I would urge everyone to play their part to keep their community safe.”