THE MP for Barrow has suggested that a local lockdown should be enacted if the area is badly affected by coronavirus.

Simon Fell said he had asked the health secretary, Matt Hancock, to look at why Barrow has the highest rate of coronavirus infections in the country.

Health chiefs have said figures are artificially inflated by the number of tests that have been carried out in the area.

But the MP said he was seeking assurances there were no other reasons why Barrow had become England’s Covid-19 hotspot.

Asked whether he would back a longer, local lockdown, he said: “If we find out there is a specific problem in Barrow or the wider Furness peninsula, then absolutely that’s what we should be doing.

“My view is that these figures represent high testing rates and that’s why I’ve asked the Health Secretary to sense-check them and ensure that this is that case, and it’s not something else that we should be concerned about and acting on.

“The PM was clear that the government will stamp down on this virus if we see regional flare-ups, and that’s what I’ll want to happen if there is something else happening here.

“The key thing to remember though is that this data is already monitored by the Department of Health and the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies to inform our response to the virus and the gradual relaxation of the lockdown rules. “

Mr Fell previously said it was too early to read into the figures.

Likewise, Cumbria’s health chief Colin Cox said figures showing Barrow as the country’s coronavirus hotspot should be viewed carefully.

He said: “The quoted high rate of Covid-19 infections in Barrow and south Cumbria needs to be treated with considerable caution.

“This is strongly influenced by the rate at which testing is carried out.

“We know that the rate of testing in the area has been exceptionally high due to the early and proactive approach to testing taken by the University Hospital of Morecambe Bay Trust.”