HEREFORDSHIRE'S top health chief has issued a new warning as England moves into the Government's "Living with Covid" plan.

Director of public health for Herefordshire Council Matt Pearce warned that health and care services were under "some pressure" after a sharp rise in Covid testing.

Covid cases are going up

But the number of Covid cases in the county, and across the rest of England, will no longer be known as free universal testing ends under Government's latest plan for living with the virus.

The latest figures available, which reflect a time when everyone in England could still get free Covid tests, showed cases were rising.


In the week to March 26, cases in Herefordshire were up more than 20 per cent compared to the week before.

The county's infection rate, the number of cases per 100,000 people stood at 1,081.0 after 2,093 positive tests were reported in the seven-day period.

That was up from an infection rate of 890.9 the week before when 1,725 cases were reported.

Hereford Times: Herefordshire Council has said people should still be wearing a mask in certain placesHerefordshire Council has said people should still be wearing a mask in certain places

The Latest NHS England figures on the number of patients with Covid at the Wye Valley NHS Trust in Herefordshire showed they were four times higher on Tuesday than four weeks ago.

The hospitals, which include Hereford County Hospital, had 31 Covid patients, but some could have been admitted for other reasons, and none were in mechanical ventilation beds.

'Some pressure' on healthcare

But public health chief Mr Pearce still urged caution.


"As routine testing for the public comes to an end, I’d like to thank the work of the local community testing team," he said.

"While free testing has ended for most people, those who are at risk of serious illness will still be able to get free tests as will some health and social care staff.

"With our high rates across the county, this has inevitably led to some pressure across our health and care services.

"Fortunately, we have fewer severely ill people in hospital than we had during the height of the pandemic."


He added: “As we’re being asked to live with Covid, it’s clear the virus has not gone away and we all need to continue to exercise caution and follow simple steps to protect ourselves and those around us.

"As with other respiratory infections, this means that people who are unwell should try and stay at home and avoid contact with other people, especially vulnerable people. They should only return to their normal activities when they feel better or no longer have a temperature, if they had one.”

Message to keep wearing masks

A spokesperson for the council added that people should still be wearing masks in enclosed public spaces, washing hands regularly and keeping indoor spaces well-ventilated, despite no legal need to do so in England.

Hereford Times: People should also be maintaining good hygiene, the council saidPeople should also be maintaining good hygiene, the council said

They added: "The Government has today (Friday, April 1) ended free community testing for the majority of people after having removed the need to legally self-isolate from 24 February.

"However, we remind residents that cases have risen sharply in the county during the last two weeks.

"Office for National Statistics data to March 26 suggests that one in every 13 people in England is infected."