JUSTIFICATION for Buckinghamshire being placed into tier three lies in a “worsening and concerning epidemiological picture” in parts of the South East, according to the government.

Buckinghamshire has seen its relationship with the pandemic ‘deteriorate’ since the end of the second national lockdown, it added.

Aylesbury Vale, Wycombe, South Buckinghamshire, and Chiltern have seen a 20 per cent or more rise in cases over the last seven days – and the most recent data indicates the case rate is continuing to increase.

Test positivity has also been increasing.

READ MORE: ‘The worst news’ – leader vows to help struggling local businesses amid Tier 3 blow

According to government data, case rates in the over 60s are increasing “significantly” in Wycombe, South Buckinghamshire, and Chiltern.

Across Buckinghamshire, the number of daily Covid hospital admissions also continues to rise.

The daily Covid bed occupancy rate is currently below the national acute hospital average, but it too continues to rise, according to government data.

READ MORE: COVID: Bucks put into Tier 3 amid fears for ‘overwhelmed’ health service

Today, Buckinghamshire learned it will be placed into tier three before Christmas, the highest alert category.

Secretary of state for health, Matt Hancock, said to ‘prevent the NHS being overwhelmed and to protect life’, the county would leave tier two and enter the ‘very high’ tier.

The new, tougher restrictions are due to come into force at 00.01am, on Saturday, December 19.

“We should not underestimate the challenge of the weeks ahead,” a government spokesperson said.

“Winter also brings additional challenges – rates are higher than they were in the summer, the colder season increases the transmission risk (people are more likely to be inside), the risk from other respiratory diseases is higher and pressures on the NHS are therefore inherently greater.”