The number of coronavirus cases in Hertfordshire continues to climb at a steep rate as a hospital trust struggles to cope with a surge in new admissions.
The county recorded 1,792 new Covid cases on today’s government dashboard, including Hertsmere (229 cases) St Albans (202) Watford (149) Three Rivers (149) and 186 in Dacorum, which make up south west Hertfordshire.
The data dashboard shows a record 1,820 cases in the whole of Hertfordshire for December 29, which includes a large proportion of the 1,792 reported today.
Today’s total means Hertfordshire has officially surpassed 40,000 cases – although many went underreported in the spring due to a lack of testing.
Infection rates remain extremely high across south west Hertfordshire and case data shows the areas which recorded the biggest increases in cases in the run-up and over Christmas were Rickmansworth, parts of north and west Watford, Borehamwood, and Bricket Wood and Chiswell Green, which is grouped together.
Thirteen areas of south west Hertfordshire have a weekly infection rate of higher than 1,000 cases per 100,000 population, including four areas of Elstree & Borehamwood, parts of Watford and Bushey, as well as Rickmansworth, Carpenders Park, and South Oxhey.
Around 25,000 tests were carried out in south west Hertfordshire just before and over Christmas – around 15 to 20 per cent of those tests came back positive for Covid.
Below is a list of 20 areas in south west Hertfordshire which recorded the most amount of cases between December 21 and 27. Keep scrolling for a full list of case data in Watford, Hertsmere, St Albans, Three Rivers, and Dacorum.
The following table shows the number of cases over the same week in every ward in south west Hertfordshire. Areas are shaded in different colours by rates, with the darkest rates areas with an infection rate higher than 800. Use the search box to filter the table by district or to search for a specific town or village.
Worryingly, several districts in Hertfordshire have seen a recent rise in the number of people over 60 testing positive for Covid, including those aged over 90.
More than 1,000 over 60s tested positive for Covid in Hertfordshire between December 15 and 26, figures published by Hertfordshire County Council showed.
This rise threatens to put further strain on the local NHS in the coming weeks, with West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust already caring for a record 285 Covid patients as of 8am on December 30.
Patients are staying longer in hospital because survival rates have improved thanks to new treatments; however NHS figures published today show the trust recorded nine new deaths of patients who died within 28 days of receiving a positive Covid test.
The deaths occurred between December 16 and 27, and takes the trust’s coronavirus death toll to 474.
Chief nurse at Watford General Hospital, Tracey Carter, said: “Sadly we are seeing too many people coming into hospital with COVID-19, more now than in the spring. Please don’t let you or your friends and family be one of them.
“Staff are already working flat out to look after patients and keep services running – but we can’t do this by ourselves. We need everyone in Hertfordshire to do their bit and do the right thing by staying at home wherever possible. If you do go out, wash your hands, keep your distance, cover your face, and spend as little time as possible out of your home.”
We are unlikely to know whether Tier 4 has had any impact on reducing the virus outbreak in Hertfordshire for another few days, due to a lag in people testing positive and cases being reported.
However, any progress the county may have made could have been scuppered by illegal Christmas gatherings and New Year parties.
Police in Watford said they attended several house parties in the town overnight and also broke up a gathering of around 100 people in West Watford.
Hertfordshire’s director of public health, Jim McManus, tweeted on December 29: “Playing our part in suppressing the virus does make a difference. It stops the quadruple whammy of 1) (hospital)admissions and longer stays, 2) staff sickness, 3) vaccine delay and 4) long Covid care need.
“Letting the virus ‘rip through’ is junk science, a deadly strategy and it is a false idea that only the ‘vulnerable’ will be at risk of death or harm….the less the virus circulates the more the system copes.
“When outside your household treat everyone as if they may be infected and behave as if you may be too. Hands, face, space and self isolate when symptomatic or asked to do so.”