A map has revealed just how widespread coronavirus infections have become across south and west Hertfordshire.

Although virtually all legal restrictions on our day-to-day lives have been lifted, the virus has not gone away - the latest data suggests its circulating more than it has done in months in our neighbourhoods.

Infection rates have tipped over 500 cases per 100,000 in the seven days to July 17, in each of the five districts of Hertsmere, Watford, Three Rivers, St Albans, and Dacorum.

And in some areas within these districts, dozens of cases have been recorded in just one week.

Where are the current hotspots?

It is difficult to pick out areas because cases have become so widespread.

Over the last ten days, infections seemed to have really picked up in places like Borehamwood, Elstree, and Bushey, as well as in parts of Watford and St Albans. 

In the seven days to July 16, Hemel Hempstead Town recorded the most cases out of 79 areas with 75 cases.

This was followed by Abbots Langley (73), St Albans Central (65), Boxmoor & Apsley (61) and Bushey Central (also 61).

Two areas in Berkhamsted recorded the lowest amount of cases - 14 and 17 respectively. More locally, the area which identified the lowest number was Rickmansworth North & Loudwater with 22.

In Hertfordshire, there have been nearly 13,000 cases identified in July.

Below is a table of all 79 wards in south west Hertfordshire ranked. The ranking is based on the number of cases identified in the week ending July 16. We have also provided data on the proportion of residents partially and fully vaccinated.

What is causing the rise in infections?

Coronavirus cases are spreading significantly between young adults in south west Hertfordshire - mainly those aged in their 20s, according to the latest data provided by Public Health England.

Rates are also high in the teenager age bracket and those in their 30s. There are signs of rates increasing in older age groups, but fortunately rates remain lowest in elderly people.

Hertfordshire County Council's director of public health said the biggest reason cases are spreading so quickly is because asymptomatic people infected with Covid are mixing with others indoors.

Jim McManus said: "The virus has not gone away, in fact cases are rising and it’s important to recognise that everyone’s circumstances are different and what feels comfortable to one person might not feel that way to another.”

"The most important thing right now is for us all to keep doing the things which stop infection. Get vaccinated if you are 18 or over, give people space, wear face coverings in crowded indoor areas, ventilate your workplaces and social spaces, and if you have symptoms get tested and self-isolate. These measures have kept us safe and will keep us safe still."

How busy is Watford General Hospital?

The latest data we have is that 20 Covid patients were being cared for at West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust as of 8am on July 13. This is the highest number since April 14 but way off the 347 patients on January 12.

The trust has recorded two Covid deaths in July, NHS England data shows. The patients passed away on July 8 and 18 and both had tested positive for Covid within 28 days of their death.

How is the vaccination programme going locally?

In England, 87.9 per cent of over 18s have had one dose of a Covid vaccination, while 68.8 per cent are fully vaccinated, as of July 20.

However, the breakdown is lower in our area of Hertfordshire.

St Albans has the highest rate of vaccinations with 83.5 per cent partially vaccinated and 67.4 per cent fully vaccinated.

Next is Three Rivers at 82.9 per cent and 67.9 per cent, followed by Dacorum at 82.1 per cent and 64.4 per cent.

Hertsmere's figures are 78.2 and 65 per cent while Watford sits at 74 and 56.2 per cent.

In West Watford and Central Watford, less than 50 per cent of adult residents are fully vaccinated.

A series of walk-in vaccination clinics have been set up, where no booking is required.

Visit Watford Borough Council's website for more details.