Cumbria has suffered its worst week for coronavirus deaths since the start of the pandemic.

The latest data for the week ending January 22 shows that 85 people died with coronavirus in the county.

The tragic news comes as infection rates in the community continue to drop, but hospitals remain under intense pressure and new admissions continue to increase in the south of the county.

Cumbria’s director of public health, Colin Cox, is urging people not to become complacent as infection numbers fall.

“There are still some hard times ahead, particularly with deaths and hospitalisations and the NHS is still struggling.

“We have been talking for some time about the light at the end of the tunnel and that is definitely there and it is definitely getting brighter.

“We are coming towards the end of the tunnel but it will be some time before we can fully relax and get back to some normality.

“People are doing a fantastic job following the lockdown rules, but we need people to stick with it a little longer and we will get this virus under control.”

He said Cumbria was in a better place than last week but he urged people to continue sticking to the rules.

There were 1,913 new Covid-19 cases in Cumbria in the same period, a decrease of 724 and a fall of 27 per cent when compared with 2,637 in the previous week.

For the sixth week in a row Carlisle had the greatest number of new cases in the county with 591.

Carlisle also had the highest rate of new cases for the fourth week in a row with 544 new cases per 100k population.

Rates in Carlisle were above the national and regional average rates. England’s is 385 per 100k and the North West is 410.

New cases decreased from the previous week in all Cumbrian districts, with the smallest proportional decrease in Barrow - a fall of 16 per cent.

The biggest fall came in Carlisle, with 36 per cent fewer new cases.

The average number of patients with Covid-19 in beds at the North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS trust decreased by three per cent.

Cumbria’s director of public health Colin Cox said the county’s vaccination programme was “going well” and nearly all patients in the first two priority groups had now been vaccinated.