A critical incident has been stood down at Watford General Hospital.

For much of today, only the maternity unit at the hospital was open to new patients with the rest of the site put on shutdown.

A critical incident was declared late this morning because of an 'issue relating to the hospital's oxygen equipment'.

West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs Watford General, put a message out on its social media channels warning everyone to stay away from A&E.

The message read: "Please DO NOT attend Watford General’s emergency department until further notice, even in an emergency.

"Go to your next nearest hospital with an emergency department. Anyone with non-urgent issues should seek advice via https://111.nhs.uk"

In an update this afternoon, the trust said: "Watford General Hospital has declared a critical incident.

"THE HOSPITAL IS CLOSED except for women attending our delivery suite."

Then, an official statement from the NHS trust released at 4.40pm, said: “As a result of a technical issue with our individual hospital’s oxygen equipment, which does not pose any risk to our patients, West Herts Hospitals NHS Trust declared a critical incident on Saturday April 4 and has asked that people do not attend Watford General Hospital.

“A small number of patients are being transferred to other hospitals in the area, with each patient being fully assessed in line with existing safety guidelines before they are moved.”

But tonight, the NHS Trust confirmed the critical incident has been stood down and the A&E department is welcoming patients again.

A spokesperson said: "West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust stood down its critical incident tonight (Saturday) at 22.30.

"This means that patients can attend Watford General as usual and that ambulances can bring patients to Watford General instead of to neighbouring hospitals.

"The issues experienced today have been resolved and a safe level of oxygen was maintained throughout the duration of the incident.

"The trust is grateful to neighbouring hospitals and to the ambulance service and the police for their support today."

Deputy chief executive Helen Brown added: “We know that our NHS colleagues and the police are exceptionally busy at the moment, but this didn’t stop them stepping in to help.

"They were quick to respond and together – as one team – we kept our site and our patients safe.”

The trust says it is not expecting to provide any further comment tomorrow and it has not gone into further detail on the 'technical issue'.

But the hospital has said it has never ran out of oxygen.

Those who did require emergency care or assistance were told to find an alternative hospital.

Watford General is currently under significant strain due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Sadly, as of today (Saturday), there have been 31 confirmed coronavirus-related deaths at West Herts NHS Trust.

There are several wards at Watford General dedicated to coronavirus patients.

But in order to keep all patients as safe as possible, extreme measures like banning visitors to the hospital was introduced in late March.

Only paediatric patients or someone giving birth are allowed a visitor, unless it is in exceptional circumstances.

The no visitor rule is also in place at St Albans and Hemel Hempstead hospitals.

All non-urgent appointments have also been postponed by the West Herts NHS trust too due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Meanwhile, the minor injuries unit at St Albans City Hospital, which is also run by West Herts Trust, is temporarily closed.

Read more why here.

Many hospitals in the UK have introduced these restrictions and measures to ease pressure on the NHS.

But you can do your bit too.

However tempting it may be to enjoy the warmer weather this weekend, the safest thing you can do is stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives.

The Department of Health announced this afternoon (Saturday) that 4,313 hospital patients in the UK who had tested positive for Covid-19 have died.

This is an increase of 708 from yesterday's announcement.

West Herts NHS Trust is also looking for nurses to work some shifts. If you can help, email westherts@nhsprofessionals.nhs.uk or call 03332407552.