CORONAVIRUS cases are continuing to rise in Herefordshire – nearly doubling in a week, latest figures show.

In the seven days to Thursday, December 30, a UK Government heatmap showed the areas in Herefordshire with the highest number of new Covid cases.

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

Current coronavirus hotspots in the county, those with the highest infection rates, include all seven areas of Hereford city centre, as well as Kingstone and Kingsthorne.

The infection rate – the number of cases per 100,000 people – for those areas were all above 1,180.

But most of those areas were below the UK average of 1,596.9.

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 2,138 cases in the seven days to December 30, giving it an infection rate of 1,104.3 cases per 100,000 people.

That was 1,005 more cases than the week before when the infection rate was 585.2. A fortnight ago it was 382.2.

The Government website shows that cases in Herefordshire have risen by 88.7 per cent over the last week, and the infection rate was now at its highest level ever.

In individual areas, the number of new cases rose by 60 or more in: Hereford South, West, East, North West and Central, as well as Kingstone and Kingsthorne.

In Ledbury, the number of cases rose by 116% to 80.

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.

Despite the big spike in cases, the number of people in hospital remains at one of the lowest levels since the summer.

On December 21, the number of Covid patients at the Wye Valley NHS Trust, which runs Hereford County Hospital, fell to a three-month low of 15.

And that number fell further to seven on Christmas Eve – the lowest since mid-August.

But since Christmas Eve, that number has risen to 15 as of Tuesday (December 28), suggesting a further rise could be on the way.

Boris Johnson has said there is a “good chance” he will not impose fresh restrictions to tackle the massive wave of Omicron cases, as he backed sticking with Plan B measures despite acknowledging parts of the NHS will feel “temporarily overwhelmed”.

The Prime Minister confirmed he would advocate to his Cabinet the need to stick with work-from-home guidance, mask-wearing and Covid health passes to “ride out” the wave of infections but warned that anyone who believes the battle against the disease is over is “profoundly wrong”.

With daily lab-confirmed coronavirus cases in England and Scotland exceeding 200,000 for the first time, Mr Johnson acknowledged now is the time for the “utmost caution” but argued the booster rollout has given substantial protection to the nation.

“So together with the Plan B measures that we introduced before Christmas we have a chance to ride out this Omicron wave without shutting down our country once again,” he told a Downing Street press conference on the eve of the review date for the restrictions announced four weeks ago.

“We can keep our schools and our businesses open and we can find a way to live with this virus.”

The Prime Minister accepted the weeks ahead are going to be “challenging” and said “some services will be disrupted by staff absences” as he pledged to “fortify” the NHS to withstand the pressures and protect supply chains.

Under the measures, he said 100,000 “critical workers” including those in transport, policing and food distribution will get lateral flow tests on every working day starting on Monday.