THE PUBLICATION of a report looking into the outbreak of a deadly bacterial infection in Braintree has been delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Bosses at the Mid Essex Clinical Commissioning Group have not yet given a new date for when the findings will be made public and say their focus remains on tackling Covid-19.

The outbreak of invasive Group A Streptococcus (iGAS) began in February last year and claimed the lives of 15 patients.

A total of 39 people are thought to have contracted the infection, which spread to Witham, Maldon and Chelmsford.

The CCG launched an independent investigation into the outbreak and worked alongside Public Health England to limit the spread of the infection.

The findings of the probe were due to be published at the beginning of April but bosses have confirmed it will now be delayed because of Covid-19.

A spokesman for the CCG said: "The independent investigation has now been completed and the initial draft report covering the findings has been prepared.

"Although publishing the report has been delayed, we have already taken steps to help us avoid the likelihood of an iGAS outbreak happening again. We will not let the delay stop us making improvements that can be actioned now, based on what we have already learned from the outbreak.

"We have also been in touch with the individuals and their families affected by the iGAS outbreak to make them aware of the delay and a commitment that we will be in touch with them again as soon as possible to update them."

The CCG says the report will likely be published once the NHS "begins to recover" from the impact of Covid-19.

Families of those killed by the infection were interviewed during the investigation, along with nurses and health service providers.

Many of those affected by the outbreak were said to be elderly patients receiving treatment for chronic wounds in their own homes and in care homes.

Control measures to slow the spread of the infection were put in place, including giving community nurses antibiotics and stopping some from working outside the CM7 Braintree area.

The measures were relaxed in January after no new cases of iGAS had been reported since August.