The leader of Hertsmere Borough Council has called on residents to help stop the spread of coronavirus as the borough moves into another lockdown.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced last night the whole of England would be moving into a third lockdown, lasting until at least the middle of February.

It is in response to rising infection rates across the country and mounting pressure on the NHS.

Hertfordshire remains one of the areas worst affected by the new variant of Covid – and in particular, infection rates in Borehamwood, Elstree, Radlett, and Bushey were well above the national average in late December.

Government figures show there were 1,017 confirmed cases in Borehamwood, Elstree, and Radlett between December 17 and December 30, with more cases recorded in Hertsmere since.

There were also nearly 600 confirmed cases in Bushey over the same time period.

The ward of Borehamwood Hillside, which is the Furzehill Road area of the town, recorded 147 cases between December 24 and 30, which is more than any other ward in south west Hertfordshire.

These numbers, the highest the town has ever officially seen because testing was not widely available in the spring, will not yet take into account any household mixing that may have taken place over Christmas and New Year.

Better news however is the Pfizer vaccine will begin to be rolled out to the most vulnerable Hertsmere residents at a vaccination centre set up at Allum Hall from this week.

Council leader Morris Bright said: "The government’s announcement of an England-wide lockdown is putting enormous pressure and strain on our residents and businesses across Hertsmere after many months of challenges.

"We must continue for the foreseeable future to protect our loved ones and our communities by stopping the spread of this infection, mindful of the understanding that we now have about the highly transmissible variant.

"Please continue to follow the rules, think ‘hands, face, space’ and keep everyone safe as we look forward to tangible progress with the vaccination programmes.

"We have a responsibility to our tremendous front line workers, to whom we owe a huge debt of gratitude, to follow the rules and help protect the NHS in the coming weeks."

Borehamwood Times:

Cllr Morris Bright

West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs Watford General Hospital, was looking after a record number of Covid patients as of 8am on December 30 – 285 - which was almost double the number of Covid patients the trust was caring for in the spring.

Read more: Hospital trust admits 124 new Covid patients in just five days

On New Year’s Eve, chief nurse Tracey Carter said: "Sadly we are seeing too many people coming into hospital with COVID-19, more now than in the spring. Please don’t let you or your friends and family be one of them.

"Staff are already working flat out to look after patients and keep services running - but we can’t do this by ourselves. We need everyone in Hertfordshire to do their bit and do the right thing by staying at home wherever possible. If you do go out, wash your hands, keep your distance, cover your face, and spend as little time as possible out of your home."