Hertfordshire County Council does not appear to be pushing for tighter restrictions for its residents despite a continued rise in cases.

Nine out of the county’s ten districts have a weekly rate of more than 100 coronavirus cases per 100,000 population – but a spokesperson says the council believes Tier 1 “accurately reflects the current position in the county”.

A rate of more than 100 is believed to be a threshold to move up to Tier 2 – but the spokesperson said a number of factors will be taken into consideration if or when Hertfordshire moves tiers.

Not only will officials take into account the number of cases, but they will also look at how quickly the cases are rising, how many vulnerable people are catching the virus, and how well hospitals are coping.

Watford Observer:

Credit: PA

But director of public health in Hertfordshire, Jim McManus, and council leader David Williams warned earlier this week it is “only a matter of time” before Hertfordshire is pushed into Tier 2, unless residents act now to stop the "significant" spread of the disease.

Tier 2 restrictions, currently in place in London as well as in Essex following a request from Essex County Council despite lower rates than Hertfordshire, would mean a ban on different households mixing indoors.

The Department for Health announced today a number of areas will be moving to Tier 2 from this weekend, including Luton and Oxford.

According to figures published on the government website, more than 1,500 people living in Hertfordshire have tested positive for Covid-19 in the last ten days, with the number likely to be higher due to delays in reporting.

And unlike in late September when rates were skewed by up to a third by misleading university student results, council data shows the virus is now circulating within the county.

The areas with the worst rates currently are Watford, Hertsmere, and Broxbourne.

And daily figures released today by the government show Watford and Broxbourne are where cases are currently most prevalent - but cases are on the way down in Three Rivers.

Stevenage and St Albans have experienced notable rises in recent days – and only North Hertfordshire has a rate of below 100.

A council spokesperson said on Wednesday: “The government has placed Hertfordshire in Tier One – the medium alert level – and we believe that this accurately reflects the current position in the county.

“However we have seen a significant increase in cases over the last few weeks, and if cases continue to rise at the current rate it is only a matter of time before we need to move up to Tier Two, with all the extra restrictions that will bring."

They continued: “Now, more than ever, we need everyone to play their part and continue washing their hands, cover their faces, give people space and self-isolate if they’re ill, or if they’re asked to by a nursery, school or college or by NHS Test & Trace.

“Whether Hertfordshire moves up to Tier Two, and when that might happen if we do, depends on whether – and how quickly – cases rise, how many of those cases are in vulnerable people and how well our local hospitals are coping.

“We are constantly monitoring detailed data about coronavirus cases in the county, and we’re in daily contact with central government and the Joint Biosecurity Centre to discuss the current situation.”

The county council is particularly concerned about a rise in cases in people aged over 60.

Figures published on the council’s website show of 1,689 cases found in Hertfordshire between October 15 and 23, 203 (12 per cent) were people aged over 60.

While the vast majority of cases in Hertfordshire in recent weeks have been teenagers and young adults, the data shows cases are rising in the older population.

Between October 17 and 23, 140 people in Hertfordshire aged between 60 and 79 tested positive for Covid-19, compared to 86 between October 10 and 16, and 30 between September 12 and 18.

Reassuringly, the data shows cases are not currently rising in people in the county aged over 80 – and have actually declined since late September.

In the graph below, you can see the line is steadily increasing in the 60-79 age bracket, but it is currently stable for those aged 80 plus.

The impact on hospitals will also play a part in any decision to go up a tier.

West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust has recorded the most deaths in the east of England of patients who tested positive for Covid-19 in October – 23.

A trust spokesperson said: “We are seeing rising Covid-19 cases in our community, and sadly, deaths. We have robust processes in place to make sure our hospitals are safe, including enhanced testing and separate Covid-19 specific areas.

“This means we can continue to provide safe care to all our patients so it’s important that anyone with health concerns continues to come forward for help and treatment.

“We can all take action to reduce the risk of catching or spreading Covid-19 and stop more people getting sick from this debilitating disease. We would urge everyone in Hertfordshire to play their part by following the ‘hands, face, space’ mantra.”

Hospital admissions are rising in the east of England, government figures show.

As of 4pm on Wednesday, there were 413 coronavirus patients in hospitals in the east of England, compared to 75 at the beginning of October.

Data published by the Office for National Statistics shows 19 Hertfordshire residents died in either the week’s ending October 9 or 16, registered up to October 24, where Covid-19 appeared on the death certificate.

The ONS reports 12 deaths over the previous five weeks.

In response to a rise in cases, agencies like the police and councils have been stepping up enforcement.

Hertfordshire Constabulary says 78 verbal warnings were issued to people breaching coronavirus rules - two people in Watford were fined for not wearing face coverings.

Chief Constable Charlie Hall said: "Under Operation Sunrise we have lined up extra resources for dedicated patrols to be out and about encouraging compliance with the coronavirus rules across the county.

"I thank the majority of people for doing the right thing and using face-coverings, maintaining social-distancing and the ‘rule of six’, and self-isolating where necessary."