Hertsmere has been listed as an "area of concern" by Public Health England following an outbreak of Covid-19.

The news was confirmed by Hertsmere MP's Oliver Dowden shortly before midday.


The borough has been hit by a "significant" outbreak of the virus since the end of August - linked to house parties involving dozens of teenagers in the Borehamwood area.

The latest weekly rate is the highest in southern England - but in recent days Hertsmere has been overtaken by several areas in northern England and the Midlands.

And despite a drop in new reported cases, including none being recorded on the daily government dashboard on Thursday's update, the borough has now been listed as an "area of concern".

No special restrictions are being imposed on Hertsmere residents but senior figures are warning the public to adhere to national rules in place to avoid any risk of a local lockdown.

Mr Dowden says he is working closely with the health secretary, Hertsmere Borough Council, Hertfordshire County Council, and relevant local public bodies.

In a statement, the MP, who is also a senior government minister, said: "We are confident that whilst the case level remains high we have measures in place to control the outbreak.

"The recent rise in cases stems from inappropriate social gatherings amongst younger people.

"The county council and the headteachers of local schools are working together to remind pupils of the need to follow the social distancing rules which are in place as they keep all of us safe.

"Contact tracing and the isolation of contacts for those who have tested positive is ongoing and I hope you are reassured to know that the Department for Education provides schools with home Covid testing kits to enable children who suspect they have Covid-19 to get a test as quickly as possible."

Borehamwood Times:

Oliver Dowden

Leader of Hertsmere Borough Council leader, Morris Bright, said: "This is a worrying time but over recent days we’ve been doing a lot of proactive work following up contact tracing, visiting business premises to remind them of the need to follow the rules and engaging with local community leaders. This will continue, with increased spot checks and enforcement activity where needed. 

"As always, our communities in Hertsmere have really come together. Our focus right now is to work with partners to contain the spread of the virus whilst keeping priority services, including schools, open wherever possible. 

"Please let’s all work together to keep Hertsmere as safe as we can during these difficult times."

Mr Dowden added: "It is absolutely critical that people, particularly young people, abide by these new rules as they will help to bring the spread of the virus under control and protect the health of the most vulnerable people.

"Please be assured that I will continue to monitor developments in Hertsmere very closely and I hope this message helps to provide some reassurance."

Public Health England produces a weekly watchlist of areas of concern, based on an assessment of rates of Covid-19, and other indicators such as testing, healthcare activity and deaths.

When a place is added to the watchlist, it can lead to enhanced support for the area and tighter lockdown restrictions if the outbreak worsens.

The watchlist has three categories for local councils – 'area of concern', 'area of enhanced support' and 'area of intervention'. 

An area of concern is the lowest level requiring targeted local actions to reduce further infection numbers.

For live updates on this breaking story in Hertsmere, click here.