THE number of coronavirus cases in Herefordshire have been 'rising dramatically' since mid-December, with the public health chief saying it was expected.

On Monday, Boris Johnson made an address to the nation where he plunged England into its third lockdown in less than 12 months.

In Herefordshire, the acting director of public health has backed the Prime Minister's decision, saying it was the right thing for the county.

She said the coronavirus infection rate, the number of cases per 100,000 people, had been rising dramatically over recent weeks.

Public health chief Rebecca Howell-Jones also expects cases to rise further as the effect of relaxed rules on Christmas Day in England, when up to three households from areas in Tiers 1, 2, and 3, were allowed to mix.

"Our rate of infection at the minute is 252, if you round it up, and that's the highest we've ever had in Herefordshire," she said.

"That is lower than other areas, you'll hear some areas where it's over 1,000, but we have seen our cases rise and rise dramatically since the middle of December.

"Our lowest point was 45 cases per 100,000, so we've seen that dramatic increase over a very short period of time."


She added: "I don't think we've yet seen any impact of any additional spread over the Christmas bubbles, we haven't seen that fully come through yet in the numbers and they continue to rise.

"I know it's difficult for people but I think it is the right thing to do, we were just going to carry on rising otherwise.

"I think it's really difficult but it's the best thing overall for the country overall and for Herefordshire."

Hereford Times: The coronavirus test centre at Hereford Leisure Pool in St Martin's AvenueThe coronavirus test centre at Hereford Leisure Pool in St Martin's Avenue

The new national measures mean Herefordshire has gone from lenient Tier 1 coronavirus restrictions to a full lockdown in just 10 days.

The number of cases reported in Herefordshire in the seven days to January 4 stands at 625, 250 more than the week before.

As well as relaxed Christmas restrictions starting to have an effect on the number of coronavirus cases in the county, Rebecca Howell-Jones also said the new variant of Covid-19 and relaxed Tier 1 measures have.

"We were expecting them to rise, we definitely were, and that's why we were somewhat exasperated when we were moved to Tier 1," she added.

"We've seen in the previous wave that actually happens in Herefordshire is we tend to lag a week or so behind other areas and then we follow the same pattern.

"We were not surprised at all that we started to take off, I would have been surprised if not for the new variant.

"It's clearly taken off in other places and we're following the picture of other places.

"It's a bit worrying."

The new lockdown measures mean people must stay at home, unless for some limited reasons.

This includes to shop for basic necessities, go to work, exercise in the local area, meet your support or childcare bubble where necessary, seek medical assistance or avoid injury, illness or risk of harm, or to attend education or childcare.