CORONAVIRUS cases are continuing to rise in Herefordshire, latest figures show.

In the seven days to Thursday, December 23, a UK Government heatmap showed the areas in Herefordshire with the highest number of new Covid cases.

Cases rose in all but three of Herefordshire's 23 areas compared with data from December 15.

Current coronavirus hotspots in the county, those with the highest infection rates, include Lugwardine, Withington and Moreton-on-Lugg; Hereford North East; Hereford West; Hereford Central; and Hereford South West.

The infection rate – the number of cases per 100,000 people – for those areas were all above 800.

But all areas were below the UK average of 1,145.4.

The map breaks Herefordshire down into 23 sections known as middle super output areas.

These are used to try and improve the reporting of small area statistics, with an average population of around 7,200 people in England and Wales.

In total, Herefordshire reported 1,089 cases in the seven days to December 23, giving it an infection rate of 562.5 cases per 100,000 people.

That was 350 more cases than the week before when the infection rate was 381.7. A fortnight ago it was 425.6.

The Government website shows that cases in Herefordshire have risen by 47.4 per cent over the last week.

In individual areas, the number of new cases rose by 25 or more in: Hereford Central; Hereford West; Kingstone and Kingsthorne; Hereford North East; Lugwardine, Withington and Moreton-on-Lugg; and Belmont, Madley and Clehonger.

Seven–day rates are expressed per 100,000 population and are calculated by dividing the seven-day count by the area population and multiplying by 100,000. This helps when comparing rates across the county.

It comes as the NHS is mounting a fresh drive to get Covid booster jabs into arms to protect against the fast-spreading Omicron variant.

The NHS vaccination programme is sending around 650,000 text messages and 50,000 letters to people who have not yet received their top-up dose, encouraging them to roll up their sleeve and have a “jabby new year”.

The move comes as ministers continue to monitor the latest data with England and Wales recording a record 129,471 confirmed cases on Tuesday, while separate figures for Scotland showed another 9,360 cases.

No data was available for Northern Ireland.

The Government at Westminster has said while the early evidence suggests Omicron is less likely to cause serious illness than earlier waves it stands ready to impose new measures in England if necessary.

Currently England is alone among the home nations in ruling out additional controls before the new year, with Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland all having put in place further controls since Christmas.

Despite rising Covid-19 case across the UK, Health Secretary Sajid Javid said on Tuesday that he “cannot see how restricting outdoor exercise is justified or proportionate” after Parkrun cancelled its free, 5k runs in Wales as the country’s restrictions prevent gatherings of more than 50 people.