The number of coronavirus cases in Essex has increased by 21 over the last 24 hours, official figures show.

It comes as the total number of infections in the UK rose by a further 4,322 today (Friday, September 18).

The figures are based on tests carried out in laboratories (pillar one of the Government’s testing programme) and in the wider community (pillar two).

The rate of infection in Essex now stands at 431 cases per 100,000 people, far lower than the England average of 592.

Another five cases have been recorded in Southend, where the total now stands at 820.

Two more cases have been recorded in Colchester bringing the total to 789.

Only one case was reported in the Maldon district, meaning the total stands at 159.

But a continuing rise in cases seen across the UK has led to speculation about another national lockdown being enforced - potentially for two weeks.

Speaking on Sky News on Friday, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said that bringing the country into another national lockdown would be “the last line of defence”.

He said: "“The country once again needs to come together and recognise there is a serious challenge. That the virus is accelerating.

“Unfortunately, it isn’t just cases increasing, it’s also the number of people ending up in hospital increasing.”