Just one in a thousand Hertfordshire residents is now infected with COVID-19, according to the latest government figures.

The infection rate has shrunk by almost 90 per cent since early January, when almost one in 100 people had a confirmed infection.

These were the most recent figures for Herts as Prime Minister Boris Johnson prepared to announce his “roadmap” for easing lockdown restrictions.

Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi said on Monday, February 22, that “all schools” would fully reopen on March 8.

On February 16 – the most recent day of verified data – there were 1,196 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Herts, or 100.5 infections per 100,000 people.

That was down 33.6 per cent on a week earlier, and 89 per cent on January 4, when cases peaked at 909.7 per 100,000 residents.

There are regional variations, with Stevenage at 150.3 cases per 100,000 and St Albans at 89.6.

The number of coronavirus patients in Herts hospitals fell by a quarter in the second week of February.

However, the number of intensive care beds occupied went up.

On February 16, there were 274 coronavirus patients across four NHS trusts: East and North Herts, West Herts, Herts Partnership and Herts Community.

A week earlier, on February 9, there had been 370. That meant the number fell by 26 per cent in a week.

The number of deaths recorded in the county also fell. Preliminary figures showed 67 coronavirus deaths in the week up to February 16, compared to 92 the week before.

In mid-January there were more than 200 per week.

However, intensive care occupancy is not following the same trend.

Last week, we reported that the number of adult critical care beds occupied in the county had fallen by over 37 per cent, from 64 on January 31, to 40 on February 7.

But by February 14, it had risen to 41.

Many patients who require intensive care have to be sedated and intubated. In addition to their lungs, the virus can affect their brains, hearts and kidneys, with some requiring dialysis.

The county’s director of public health, Jim McManus, said last month that while the survival rate had improved as effective treatments were found, this meant more people remaining in hospital for longer periods of time as they were rehabilitated.