More than 12,000 NHS staff across Hertfordshire have been tested to see if they have had Covid-19 – with results suggesting that one-in-five have had the virus.

The data presented to the board of the Herts Valleys Clinical Commissioning Group shows that by July 1, 12,268 staff had been tested for antibodies.

And of those that had been tested 2,424 (19.75 per cent) had tested positive.

At West Hertfordshire Hospitals Trust, which operates Watford General, St Albans City and Hemel Hempstead hospitals, 34 per cent of the 2,790 staff tested were found to be positive for the Covid-19 antibody.

Meanwhile at Hertfordshire Community Trust – which provides services in clinics, schools and community hospitals, eight per cent of the 1,362 staff tested were positive.

At the East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust, which operates the Lister, Hertford County and the QEII hospitals, 15 per cent of the 4,498 staff tested were positive.

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Nineteen per cent of the 537 staff tested at the Central London Community Healthcare Trust were found to have the antibodies.

And the same proportion – 19 per cent – of the 3,081 staff at the Hertfordshire Partnership Foundation Trust were also positive.

Although a positive antibody test suggests an individual has had the virus, there is no evidence that this will provide immunity.

Staff at all Hertfordshire trusts are being told that they must continue to socially distance and to take the same measures as before.

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A coronavirus testing centre for staff at Watford General Hospital

A spokesperson for the NHS in Hertfordshire stressed that it was not unusual for antibody rates to vary between trusts, pointing to the different facilities they offered and conditions they treated.

She said: "Acute hospital trusts across the East of England region have seen different rates of anti-body prevalence of between 20 to 40 per cent so the Hertfordshire area is not unusual in its prevalence of the virus.

"We can’t compare the other local Hertfordshire NHS Trusts with each other because these trusts do not provide facilities for critically ill patients or manage the same types of patients as the acute trusts.

"Therefore, their staff would have had different rates of contact with the virus than the acute hospitals."

Five NHS workers in Hertfordshire are known to have died after contracting Covid-19 including healthcare assistant John Alagos, healthcare assistant Khalid Jamil, nurse Wilma Banaag, Dr Alfa Saadu, and Sharad Bhatt who worked in the central booking team for outpatients’ appointments at West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust.

A memorial took place for all five people and former matron and nurse Stephanie Wilcocks at Watford FC's stadium at the end of April.

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