The leader of Essex County Council and the County’s Public Health Chief have emailed 70,000 residents urging them to stay home amid the Coronavirus crisis.

Councillor David Finch and Dr Mike Gogarty are pleading for people to follow the Government’s, unless absolutely necessary.

As of Sunday, March 22, there are 53 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Essex out of a population of 1,477,764.

The number of deaths in UK stands at 281, with more than 72,600 people have been tested, with 5,683 being positive.

The email reads: “We are facing the biggest challenge of our times. Coronavirus is a killer. If we do nothing, 500,000 people across our great country will die.

“But that horrendous outcome will not happen, provided we act.

“The Government has issued good advice. But not all of us are following it, this is not good enough.

“We must heed the advice from Government to stay home as there is no doubt that this will save lives.

“Across Essex this weekend, we have seen people behaving in a way which was very much like going about their usual business and this is not acceptable.”

As part of the effort to stop the spread, last week it was announced that all UK schools would be closing, but spaces would be available for children of key workers and those with an ECHP.

“However, the Government has made it clear that if you fit this criteria, you should only send your children to school as a last resort.

Cllr Finch said: “Even though some schools across Essex will stay open, you should only take your children to them, if you have been notified that you are a critical worker and if you absolutely have no other option.”

Cllr Finch has also expressed his concern for the NHS.

He said: “If the epidemic peaks, as it has in Italy, which has a world-class health system, the NHS will be overwhelmed.

“We must not allow the ‘peak’ of the epidemic to outstrip the NHS’s capacity to care. Every single one of us can ensure that this nightmare scenario does not happen.

“In China, and South Korea, the spread of the virus has been kept in check because Governments have acted quickly enough, and people have followed advice. We must follow suit.

“Our great County of Essex has always risen to the challenges over the decades. This is the greatest one of our times.

“Please, follow the advice. Stay Home. Save Lives. #StayHomeSaveLives.”

The full letter sent to residents can be found here-

The latest advice on coronavirus (COVID-19) is available on the Public Health England (PHE) and NHS websites.

You can find out about impacts on our services on the Essex County Council website.