Latest data suggests there have been more than 2,000 confirmed – or suspected – cases of the Omicron variant in Hertfordshire.

The Omicron variant of Covid-19 – which is believed to spread rapidly – was first identified at the end of November.

And latest data – published on Friday (December 17) – suggests that up to December 13 there had been 2,174 definite or suspected cases in the county.

Of those, 445 cases have already been confirmed and 1,729 are ‘S gene target failure’ (SGTF) cases, which is where Omicron is suspected.

When the same data was published a week earlier (December 10) it had identified just 24 confirmed cases and 64 suspected cases since the start of November until December 6.

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But now the revised data points to 336 confirmed cases across Hertfordshire and 737 SGTF cases in the week ending December 6.

It has already identified 68 confirmed cases in the week ending December 13 – as well as 1,048 SGTF cases.

Although the figures may appear to be declining week on week, officials expect this figure for w/e December 13 to increase when the data is next updated.

A spokesperson for Hertfordshire County Council said that it was clear that the Omicron variant is spreading "rapidly" in the county.

“Although it will take a few weeks to get a complete and accurate picture, it is clear that the Omicron variant is spreading rapidly all across Hertfordshire,” said a spokesperson for the county council.

“And we expect it to become the dominant variant by around Christmas.

“We would urge people to be cautious in the run-up to Christmas and New Year, and it’s more important than ever that people get their vaccinations and booster jabs as soon as possible to help us minimise the impact of this new variant.”

Overall the data shows that the highest number of cases – confirmed and suspected (SGTF) – is in St Albans, where there have been 340 cases, including 91 confirmed and 249 SGTF cases.

And in East Herts, in total, there have been 309 cases – 61 confirmed and 248 SGTF cases.

Elsewhere in the county, in Broxbourne there have now been 22 confirmed cases and 188 SGTF cases, totalling 210.

In Dacorum there have been 32 confirmed cases and 168 SGTF, totalling 200.

In Hertsmere there have been 39 confirmed cases and 166 SGTF cases, totalling 205.

In North Herts there have been 37 confirmed cases and 156 SGTF cases, totalling 193.

In Stevenage there have been 26 confirmed cases and 115 SGTF cases, totalling 141.

In Three Rivers there have been 46 confirmed cases and 119 SGTF cases, totalling 165.

In Watford there have been 30 confirmed cases and 142 SGTF cases, totalling 172.

And in Welwyn Hatfield there have been 61 confirmed cases and 178 SGTF cases, totalling 239.

Overall Covid-19 data shows that in the seven days to December 14 there were 9976 cases of the virus recorded across the county – resulting in an incidence rate of 834.3 per 100k population.

That’s an increase in the rate of more than 50 per cent – compared to the previous week – to December 7 – when the rate was 556.6.