“We must continue to follow the rules.”
That is the message from Cumbria’s public health director as a small increase in the number of new cases in the county was recorded in the latest weekly figures.
New cases rose from 114 to 134, although the infection rate remained low at 27 cases per 100,000 and well below the England (70 cases per 100,000) and North West regional averages (56 cases per 100,000).
Within that overall picture, there were more notable increases in some districts, particularly Copeland which saw an almost five-fold increase in cases.
The actual number of cases remained relatively low. More recent data suggests that this spike was associated with specific outbreaks rather than indicating a changing overall trend. Case rates in all districts continue to be carefully monitored.
While secondary school-age children did account for the highest number of new infections in the county the total numbers remained comparatively low.
The number of new admissions to hospitals remained low and the total number of people in hospital with COVID-19 continued to decline. Hospitals continue to operate strict social distancing measures on their sites which does significantly affect the number of patient beds available.
The vaccination programme continues across the county with 57 per cent (238,238) of eligible Cumbrian’s (over 18) now having received their first vaccine dose.
Early data suggests that this is having an impact, new infections among people over 50 years old continue to decline steeply.
Colin Cox, Cumbria’s director of public health, said: “At the moment Cumbria seems to have broadly stabilised at around 25 cases per 100 thousand population and the short-term spikes in some parts of the county last week are in line with what we would expect to see in these circumstances.
“We are in a much better position than other parts of the north-west which is really positive, but we won’t really know the full effect of schools opening and the easing of lockdown restrictions for a couple of weeks so we must not get complacent.
“As we head into the Easter holidays, I really urge people to continue to follow the new rules. It’s great we can meet more people, but do it outside, give each other space and remember the hand washing.
“I’d also remind people that they can get a free rapid-result COVID-19 test if they would like reassurance before they meet with others. Fingers crossed for good weather.”