RESIDENTS across Essex are being urged to stay at home ahead of the first weekend in the latest national lockdown.

The county's Police, Fire and Crime Commisioner Roger Hirst has made the plea as hospitals across Essex continue to grapple with high numbers of Covid patients.

There were 39 coronavirus-related deaths recorded at hospital trusts in Essex today.

Across the whole of the UK, there were 1,325 fatalities - a record for a single day since the pandemic began.

Speaking ahead of the weekend, Mr Hirst said residents owed it to key-workers to remain at home and help prevent the spread of Covid-19.

He said: "We are being challenged but there are many reasons to be thankful. Our doctors and nurses do an amazing job. They are under pressure; they are working hard but they are delivering for us.

"Our police officers, fire fighters and front-line staff across the emergency services are working well together to keep us safe.

"We’ve got firefighters volunteering to drive ambulances again on top of their normal jobs.

"And our police officers are more visible than ever; engaging with our community, ensuring people understand the new restrictions, that they have them explained to them, and they’re enforced when necessary.

"If it’s a blatant breach, then clearly through fixed penalty notice or even arrest.

"Since the emergency incident was called by the Essex Resilience Forum last week, we have also seen help starting to arrive in the county and a shared commitment to make sure we all do what we have to do to get this virus under control.

"The situation in our hospitals remains very challenging. Doctors and nurses across the county have described it as one of the hardest situations they have ever faced.

"We owe it to these people, to the doctors, the nurses, the officers, the teachers and the firefighters to do our bit, to stay home, to stay safe and protect our NHS.

"Each decision we make individually either increases the risk or reduces it. Those decisions are ours.

"It is up to all of us and each one of us to play our part.

"Please continue to stay at home, stay safe and protect the NHS. Thank you."