The rate of new cases of Covid-19 in Watford and Three Rivers has hit its highest for months.

Although the weekly rate in our area is nowhere near rates being experienced in the north of England, the latest figures are a reminder that the virus has not disappeared locally.

Both Watford and Three Rivers, which have similar populations, have a rate of 32.1 cases per 100,000 population in the seven days to September 27.

This rate of 32.1 is the highest we have seen in both areas since the government began publishing daily coronavirus cases on its dashboard in June.

Neighbouring Hertsmere, which was listed as an area of concern by Public Health England, after a significant outbreak of cases linked to teenage house parties, has seen its rate drop from more than 60 in early September to 26.7 (28 cases).

Watford

Watford’s rate of 32.1 cases in the seven days to September 27 is the equivalent to 31 cases.

The rate has been stable and relatively low in the town for some time, with Hertfordshire County Council able to control a larger outbreak in July.

But since September 14, at least one person living in Watford has tested positive for the virus everyday – including 13 between September 15 and 16, 17 between September 21 and 23, and five on September 26.

Watford mayor Peter Taylor said in a video today there had been outbreaks at two businesses in the town.

A map updated daily on the government website shows between September 20 and 26, five people living in Watford town centre tested positive for Covid-19, six in Tudor ward, three in Holywell, and four in Woodside.

Three Rivers

Covid-19 cases, and deaths, in Three Rivers have consistently been the lowest in south west Hertfordshire throughout the whole of the pandemic.

But recently, the district has experienced outbreaks which has seen its rate increase to 32.1 (30 cases).

The rise in cases is mainly attributed to an outbreak in Moor Park & Batchworth where cases reached double figures over a weekly period.

Between September 20 and 26, the map shows six people living in Moor Park & Batchworth tested positive for Covid-19, with four cases in Croxley Green, four in Abbots Langley, four in Rickmansworth west, three in Chorleywood, and three in Oxhey Hall & Hayling.

Hertsmere

Targeted action in Hertsmere has seen the number of cases in the borough drop considerably.

Hertsmere’s rate of more than 60 in early September was one of the top 10 highest in England, and the highest in the south of England – before substantial outbreaks plagued much of northern England.

The latest rate, in the seven days to September 27, is 26.7 which is 28 new cases.

Case hotspots earlier this month were in Borehamwood, Bushey Heath, Radlett, and Elstree.

The latest map shows between September 20 and 26, there were five cases in Bushey North, five in Bushey Central, three in Bushey Heath, four in Brookmeadow in Borehamwood, and three in Hillside in Borehamwood.

Yesterday, leader of Hertsmere Borough Council, Morris Bright, said: “The latest figures for Hertsmere show the numbers of Covid infections are going in the right direction and have dropped considerably since the peak of the spike a few weeks ago.

“We must still be vigilant and continue to work together to keep our borough safe as it can be in order to avoid further restrictions such as those we’ve seen imposed elsewhere in the country.”

Hillingdon Times:

Cllr Bright wearing a facemask outside Elstree Studios in Borehamwood

St Albans and Dacorum

St Albans has been experiencing a prolonged period of new daily cases, although the population of St Albans district is around 50,000 more than each of Watford, Hertsmere, and Three Rivers.

Earlier this month, the leader of St Albans District Council Chris White appealed for residents to play their part to control the virus.

The rate in St Albans in the seven days to September 27 is 33.9 (49 cases).

The county council took action in Dacorum in August after outbreaks in Berkhamsted, Tring, and near Hemel Hempstead.

The virus was brought well under control but recent days have shown an increase in cases again with 30 between September 24 and 28.

Dacorum’s rate is currently 22.0 (34 cases).

Deaths

There have been no Covid-19 deaths reported by West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust since September 6.

Data published on Tuesday by the Office for National Statistics shows between August 28 and September 18, five deaths have occurred of people living in south west Hertfordshire where Covid-19 was listed as the cause of death.

This includes two people from Watford who died in hospital, one person from each of Hertsmere and St Albans who died in hospital, and a person from Dacorum who died at home.

Six Covid-19 deaths were recorded in south west Hertfordshire between July 31 and August 27.

Data on the government dashboard shows as of 4.10pm today (September 30), there are 81 Covid-19 patients in hospitals in the east of England, including 13 on a ventilator.

These figures were last as high in late July.

PM briefing

At a press conference this evening, Prime Minister Boris Johnson called for “collective forbearance, common sense and willingness to make sacrifices” in the battle against coronavirus, warning that tougher measures could be introduced if the evidence showed they were needed.

He said the country is at a “critical moment” in the battle with coronavirus, while England’s chief medical officer, Professor Chris Whitty, warned hospital admissions and intensive care cases are “heading the wrong way”.

Hillingdon Times:

Mr Johnson speaking at a Downing Street press conference today. Credit: PA

The latest figures showed a further 7,108 lab-confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK, slightly down on the 7,143 reported on Tuesday.

The Government also said a further 71 people had died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 as of Wednesday. This brings the UK total to 42,143.