There are zero Covid patients in Watford General Hospital for the first time since the pandemic began, figures show.
The number of patients with the virus being cared for by West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust – which runs the hospital – has dropped significantly since the third peak during the winter, when hundreds of Covid patients were being treated.
Figures show that on January 12, a record 347 patients were being looked after by the trust, which also runs St Albans City Hospital and Hemel Hempstead Hospital.
But there were no Covid patients being cared for by the trust as of Tuesday (May 25), government figures show.
It is the first time zero patients have been recorded since data began being published on March 20 last year.
Despite the good news, the virus does appear to be on the rise again in Watford, as it is in other parts of England.
Latest government figures show the town recorded a weekly case rate of 48.7 per 100,000 population on May 24, an increase on a rate of 29 the previous week.
The Indian variant was identified in Watford earlier this month but Hertfordshire’s director of public health has suggested the Indian variant is not to blame for the latest spread in Watford.
PHE data shows 18 positive cases of the variant were identified in Watford by May 25, from samples taken in the week to May 21.
This came after the health body identified 11 cases the week before.
Hertfordshire’s director of public health Jim McManus told the Observer: “The Indian variant of COVID-19 is not yet the dominant variant anywhere in Hertfordshire. However, the proportion of cases of the Indian variant is growing and it appears that nationally this variant will become dominant within the next few weeks.
“The number of coronavirus cases is rising in Watford, with cases spread right across the borough. The ‘coronavirus alert’ on social media seeks to inform our residents and encourage them to keep doing the basics over the Bank Holiday weekend.”
Mr McManus continued: “We should all continue to wear a face-covering when required, wash our hands regularly and maintain social-distancing and, if meeting people indoors, make sure the venue is well-ventilated.
“Meeting outdoors for now is much lower risk if the weather allows. It is also absolutely critical to get the vaccine when you can or when offered it, take a test twice-a-week, and self-isolate if you are told to.
“To find out more about tests and the options available, people can go to www.hertfordshire.gov.uk/rapidtest.”