THE highest ever number of new Covid-19 infections is being predicted this week in Cumbria.

It follows more than 3,300 cases in the week ending July 16, the second highest on record for the county.

Provisional data indicates that the record will be broken this week, according to Cumbria County Council.

Meanwhile, more people in Cumbria began self-isolation than ever before.

The overall case rate for the county hit 660 per 100,000 population (660/100k), compared to an England average of 507/100k.

The case rate was lowest in Eden (317/100k) and highest in Copeland (1019/100k).

Case rates increased across all age groups but continued to be highest among younger people.

The case rate for under 50s was 1085/100k compared to 184/100k for over 50s. Among 19-24 year olds the case rate hit 2293/100k.

Some 3,211 people began self-isolation, according to national NHS Test and Trace data, the highest ever number.

Hospitals in the county are said to have started to come under more pressure because of increasing Covid-positive patients being cared for.

Across the county’s two NHS Trusts there was a 43 ooer cent increase in patients in hospital in the week ending July 20, up from 31 to 54.

Dr Matthew Saunders, consultant in public Health at Cumbria County Council, said: “We are now entering uncharted territory and it is hard to predict how high infection rates will rise in the absence of lockdown restrictions.

"The impact of increasing infections is now being widely felt across the county’s economy as thousands self-isolate and this is creating real difficulties for employers.

"While numbers in hospital remain significantly below previous highs, they are increasing, and this is putting additional pressure on hospitals already facing extremely high levels of demand for non-covid care.

“While most legal restrictions have been lifted, I strongly encourage people to continue to behave with caution, especially if you are vulnerable or are in frequent contact with vulnerable people, and even if you have been vaccinated.

"Wearing a mask in busy indoor spaces will help, as will washing hands regularly, avoiding crowds and giving people space.

"I’d also remind people that the whole test and trace system is one thing that has not changed, there is still a legal requirement to self-isolate if you test positive for covid, or if you are asked to by NHS Test and Trace.”