Public health officials have warned "it is only a matter of time" before Hertfordshire is pushed into stricter lockdown restrictions.

Hertfordshire County Council leader David Williams says the whole county has seen a "significant increase" in coronavirus cases - there have been 1,260 across Hertfordshire in the seven days to October 23.

Hertfordshire remains in Tier 1 for now meaning different households can still mix indoors - and the county can stay in Tier 1, but only if everyone in Hertfordshire "acts now" to stop the spread of the virus, Cllr Williams claimed.

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In a statement this evening, Cllr Williams and director of public health in Hertfordshire, Jim McManus said: "While Hertfordshire is currently in Tier One – the medium alert level – 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.

"We can still avoid these stricter, tougher measures if everyone acts now to stop the spread of the virus. This means that we all need to play our part and continue washing our hands, covering our faces, giving people space and self-isolating if we’re ill, or if we’re asked to by a nursery, school or college or by NHS Test & Trace.

"It’s particularly important that anyone who has any symptom of Covid-19 self-isolates properly. Staying at home if you’re ill is the single most important thing you can do to help us stop coronavirus spreading."

Scroll down to see areas with the most coronavirus cases right now

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Importantly, Hertfordshire's rates are not as skewed as they were in September by university students - as many as a third were actually not in Hertfordshire, but now the virus is speading locally.

Last week, Councillor Tim Hutchings, cabinet member for public health in Hertfordshire, warned the county was "not far off" Tier 2 restrictions - since then rates have increased in areas like North Hertfordshire and Stevenage where cases were low in comparison to places like Watford, Hertsmere, Three Rivers, and Broxbourne.

Figures published on the government dashboard today showed some hope, with just nine new cases reported in Watford and ten in Three Rivers.

But the latest weekly rates show only North Hertfordshire is keeping the whole county out of Tier 2 - and unless rates drop across the county, Tier 2 looks inevitable.

It's believed the threshold for tighter restrictions is 100 cases per 100,000 population but across Hertfordshire as a whole - the table below shows nine out of Hertfordshire's ten districts are above or very close to a rate of 100.

A map published on the government website shows the coronavirus hotspots in the week ending October 22.

In Watford, the worst affected districts are Holywell (21 cases) and Nascot Wood (16 cases) and Leggatts (16).

In Hertsmere, it is Bushey North (25 cases) and Borehamwood Hillside (16 cases).

In Three Rivers, it is Moor Park & Batchworth (18), South Oxhey (16), and Oxhey Hall & Hayling (16).

The majority of cases in St Albans are St Albans Central, Verulam Park, and Longacres - each with 11 cases.

While in Dacorum, it is Hemel Hempstead Town (14), Highfield (14), and Nash Mills and Bennetts End (14).

Cllr Williams and Mr McManus added: "We know most people are following the rules, and this is definitely helping slow the spread of coronavirus in the county, but we all need to redouble our efforts and be even more disciplined if we’re to avoid stricter controls on our daily lives.

"Police and environmental health officers are stepping up action to enforce these rules where people refuse to comply, but we’re confident that the vast majority of people in Hertfordshire have the good sense and community spirit to do the right thing and act to protect their families, friends, neighbours and communities.

"We want to keep you, the residents of Hertfordshire, safe while also keeping the county up-and-running to support our businesses and our economy. We are well prepared and have detailed plans for managing outbreaks, but we can’t control the spread of coronavirus without your help.

"If we all act now, we still have an opportunity to stay in control of the spread of the virus in Hertfordshire, rather than having stricter measures implemented. We urge everyone to help us make sure that is the case by following the guidance. If you keep playing your part, we can all stay safe in Hertfordshire together."

Five new coronavirus deaths were reported at West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust by NHS England today, including four patients who died on October 23.

There have now been 21 patients who tested positive for Covid-19 at the trust who have died in October.

Read more: Five more coronavirus deaths at hospital trust