CUMBRIA still has one of the lowest Covid-19 infection rates in the north of England, despite being in one of the worst-affected regions in the country.

Only six sub-division local authority areas across the North West have recorded an infection rate lower than 25 per 100,000, according to the latest available public health data.

Five of those areas - including the South Lakes - are in Cumbria.

Barrow is the only district or borough within the county to report per capita infection levels rising above 25, having recorded a rate of 53.6 per 100,000 between September 11 and 17.

The South Lakes, by contrast, recorded just 15.3 cases per 100,000 during the same time frame.

Bolton currently has the highest infection rate across the North West - with its latest figures at around 198 per 100,000.

The Greater Manchester town had exceeded the 200 mark in the days prior to the last weekly recording.

Three schools in Furness have had to take action following fresh cases in the past week, while pubs and takeaways have been forced to close their doors.

Several workers at BAE systems, including one outside contractor, have also tested positive for Covid-19 in the past seven days.

Mr Cox said public health teams were aware of residents flouting instructions to self-isolate ‘both locally and nationally’.

Despite its relatively low incidence rates up to this point, Mr Cox argued it is 'vital' South Lakes residents continue to adhere to social distancing rules and pay close attention to the announcements of any new restrictions over the course of coming weeks.

He acknowledged the difficulties observing the new Covid-19 rules could create, but argued the country was entering a 'critical' phase in its efforts to contain the virus, as 'Covid fatigue' begins to set in amid seasonal pressures on the health service.

The county public health chief also said he was 'surprised' by the 'moderate' nature of this week's announcements, adding that he expected a limitation of household contact - such as the measures issued for Barrow residents last week - to be included in the new list of restrictions.

In an attempt to limit the further transmission rates of the virus across south Cumbria, the county council last week requested Furness residents limit their social interactions, within the framework of the Government's new 'rule of six' restriction, to just two households.