Hertfordshire's director of public health is advising residents to be "cautious" after the lifting of national Covid restrictions – as Covid cases in Hertfordshire continue to rise.

On Monday night, the Prime Minister signalled a lifting of most Covid restrictions from July 19 including the current legal requirement to wear a face covering or to socially distance.

In the wake of Boris Johnson's announcement, Jim McManus has stressed that caution is still needed.

The county's public health chief points to data that shows a 69.4 per cent increase in cases in Hertfordshire in the seven days to July 10, as well as increasing levels of hospitalisation.

At least 5,600 people living in Hertfordshire have tested positive for Covid in July.

He also points to the one-in-three people across the Hertfordshire and West Essex area that have yet to receive their first dose of the vaccine.

Mr McManus said: "There is no good time to exit restrictions – and whenever we do, we will have an exit wave...The issue will be down to how much we as residents,  organisations and employers decide to stay safe. 

"And if the caution I am seeing and hearing continues, then this third wave will be less harmful than other waves."

Nevertheless, estimates suggest that there could be up to 100,000 cases of Covid recorded per day.

And Mr McManus says it’s a "sobering thought" that that could lead to up to 10,000 new cases of long Covid per day.

he said: "That alone should actually make us want to protect particularly younger people and do our bit."

Across Hertfordshire, the data shows infection rates are increasing most rapidly amongst 17-18-year-olds – with rates also rising "quite quickly" in the 19-24 and 25- 39 age groups.

But he said the vaccine take-up of young adults in Hertfordshire had been "extremely good" - around 60 per cent of 20 to 29-year-olds have had one dose.

Of the 1.6 million residents in the Hertfordshire and West Essex area, one million have had their first vaccination, with 750,00 fully vaccinated.

Mr McManus warned: "There are still an awful lot of people not yet fully vaccinated – and the virus can reach them."

And he stresses that the virus is "still out there" and that it "won’t end when the rules change".

Mr McManus added there will still be "very strong guidance" on the wearing of face coverings in closed places, such as on public transport.

He said: "I will continue wearing a face covering in every shop, to protect the staff in the shop and show respect and courtesy."