More than 500 coronavirus patients at a hospital trust have died since the pandemic began, latest figures show.

Data from NHS England shows West Hertfordshire Hospitals Trust has recorded 542 deaths since March, one of the highest totals across trusts in the East of England.

Among a further 508 deaths of coronavirus patients across England to be reported today, a total of 19 occurred in South West Hertfordshire.

They were all registered between December 17 and December 22, with a total of six being recorded on December 19.

Watford Observer: West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust runs Watford General HospitalWest Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust runs Watford General Hospital

It comes as NHS figures showed West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust was caring for 330 Covid patients, as of 8am on Tuesday (January 5).

This is up from 227 on Christmas Day and more than double the number of Covid patients the trust was looking after at any one time during the spring.

The data shows there have been 270 Covid admissions and diagnoses at the trust since Christmas Day, including 24 from care homes. Figures show out of the 270 patients above, 230 were new admissions from outside the hospital.

After Watford’s case rate hit 1,000 per 100,000 population during a seven day period, Mayor Peter Taylor urged residents to "behave responsibly".

Hertfordshire’s director of public health has also warned that behaving like the coronavirus vaccine is here is “completely counter-productive”.

Speaking in a Covid-19 press breifing on Wednesday, he said: "Some people are behaving as if the vaccine is here and its fine. That’s completely counter-productive.

"The longer we fail to adhere to the guidance the more the virus will circulate, the more we will be in lockdown, the more NHS staff will be diverted from vaccination to care and the more risk we have of getting virus variants that will resist the vaccine."

Hundreds of thousands of people aged 80 and over are being invited to book a vaccine at the new NHS vaccination centres that open this week.

Robertson House in Stevenage has been confirmed as one of the seven centres and will serve thousands of residents across Hertfordshire as well as some neighbouring counties like Essex and Cambridgeshire.

Watford Observer: Robertson House in Stevenage, pictured, will be a mass vaccination hub for the east of England. Credit: PARobertson House in Stevenage, pictured, will be a mass vaccination hub for the east of England. Credit: PA

NHS England said the first 130,000 letters began arriving on doormats this weekend with more than 500,000 following this week, with the national vaccination programme “rapidly accelerating”.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “With covid cases at record levels and a tragic number of people losing their lives to this vicious disease, we are once again asking everyone to stay at home in order to stop its spread and protect our NHS.

“Our plan is to vaccinate as many people as possible across the entire United Kingdom as quickly as we can. And with more than 1,000 vaccination sites across the country, including seven new mass vaccination centres, we will help protect hundreds of thousands of vulnerable people over the coming weeks as we accelerate towards offering 12 million people the jab in England by the middle of February.

“There are deeply challenging weeks ahead, but today signals another significant step forward in the race to protect the public and defeat the virus.”