Coronavirus hospital admissions in Hertfordshire have more than doubled in a month, official NHS figures show.

The rise in people going into hospital with Covid-19 comes at a time when Hertfordshire teeters on the brink of going into Tier 2, unless a "significant" spread of the disease can be brought under control.

Data published by NHS England on Thursday shows 121 patients have been admitted into hospitals in Hertfordshire in October.

The 121 patients were either known to have Covid-19 when they came into hospital or have been diagnosed with the virus since arriving.

The majority of patients (85) have been admitted to West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust, with 34 at East & North Hertfordshire NHS Trust, and two at Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust.

The data shows more coronavirus patients have been admitted into hospitals in the county in October, than August and September combined.

The number of hospital admissions is important because Hertfordshire County Council says any decision on whether Hertfordshire moves up to Tier 2 lockdown restrictions will not only be based on the number of cases, but how many of those people are vulnerable, and how well the hospitals are coping.

How many Covid patients are at Watford General right now?

At West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust, which has recorded the most coronavirus deaths in the east of England in October, figures show admissions are rising.

The figures show that the number of new Covid-19 patients over the last week or so has spiked.

Between October 17 and 25, 37 patients were admitted to Watford General Hospital, compared to 21 between October 9 and 16.

As of October 27, there were 36 Covid-19 patients being cared for at the hospital, which is the highest number at any one time since August 1, which is when the data provided goes back to.

Two of these 36 patients are on a ventilation bed.

It is worth bearing in mind that during the peak of the pandemic, in early to mid-April, the trust is understood to have been caring for around 200 Covid-19 patients at any one time – and the situation became so serious, a critical incident was declared after the hospital’s oxygen system edged towards maximum capacity.

How old are the Covid patients going into Watford General?

In August and September, six patients aged over 85 were admitted to Watford General with Covid-19 and a further 20 were diagnosed with the virus once in hospital.

Ten patients aged between 65 and 84 were admitted over the same time period with a further 20 diagnosed, while 13 patients aged between 18 and 64 were admitted, with a further 13 diagnosed.

The data from the NHS also provides details on admissions from care homes.

The data shows just three of the 37 patients admitted between October 17 and 25 were from a care home.

How many patients have been discharged in West Hertfordshire hospitals?

Although there have been deaths, lots of coronavirus patients have recovered and been discharged from hospital.

NHS data shows in September, 22 Covid-19 patients at West Hertfordshire Trust returned home, and more than 450 patients have been discharged since March.

What's the situation like at the moment at Watford General?

A trust spokesperson said: "We are seeing rising Covid-19 cases in our community, and sadly, deaths. We have robust processes in place to make sure our hospitals are safe, including enhanced testing and separate Covid-19 specific areas.

"This means we can continue to provide safe care to all our patients so it's important that anyone with health concerns continues to come forward for help and treatment.

"We can all take action to reduce the risk of catching or spreading Covid-19 and stop more people getting sick from this debilitating disease. We would urge everyone in Hertfordshire to play their part by following the 'hands, face, space' mantra."

The trust is planning for an increase in cases and says it is able to manage its capacity based on demand.

How do hospital admissions now compare to the peak?

NHS data also allows us to compare hospital admissions now in the whole of the east of England to what it was like back in April.

The chart below shows that admissions have risen across the region in October but admissions are one fifth of what they were in April - but cases have been increasing in Hertfordshire as October has gone on, and we know it can take some time before a patients needs to go into hospital.

Could Hertfordshire be dropping into Tier 2?

Earlier this week, the director of public health for Hertfordshire, Jim McManus, and leader of Hertfordshire County Council, David Williams, warned it is "only a matter of time" before Hertfordshire is moved into Tier 2 restrictions – unless residents "act now" to stop the spread.

Read more: Where Hertfordshire is now and what has to happen to drop into Tier 2

Figures published by the government daily shows areas where cases are rising most quickly at the moment are Watford and Broxbourne.

Rates are also high in Hertsmere, but have dipped in Three Rivers.

Only North Hertfordshire has a rate of below 100 cases per 100,000 population.

How old are the people catching coronavirus right now?

Public health officials are concerned about a rise in cases in Hertfordshire involving people aged between 60 and 79 - the graph below shows while the majority of cases are still involving youngsters, cases are steadily increasing in the 35-59 age bracket and 60-79 bracket - but cases are stable in those aged over 80.

The county was not among several places moved from Tier 1 to 2 by the government yesterday – among areas that were included Luton and Oxford.

What are Hertfordshire residents being asked to do?

A spokesperson for the county council said on Thursday: "The government has placed Hertfordshire in Tier 1 – the medium alert level – and we believe that this accurately reflects the current position in the county.

"However we have seen a significant increase in cases over the last few weeks, and if cases continue to rise at the current rate it is only a matter of time before we need to move up to Tier 2, with all the extra restrictions that will bring."

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Credit: PA

They continued: "Now, more than ever, we need everyone to play their part and continue washing their hands, cover their faces, give people space and self-isolate if they’re ill, or if they’re asked to by a nursery, school or college or by NHS Test & Trace.

"Whether Hertfordshire moves up to Tier Two, and when that might happen if we do, depends on whether – and how quickly – cases rise, how many of those cases are in vulnerable people and how well our local hospitals are coping.

"We are constantly monitoring detailed data about coronavirus cases in the county, and we’re in daily contact with central government and the Joint Biosecurity Centre to discuss the current situation.”