THE number of new coronavirus infections in Cumbria is now ‘much lower than other parts of the north west’.

Colin Cox, Cumbria’s director of public health, said that weekly government figures showing the number of new infections in the county was ‘around 25-50’ was “relevant information when people are trying to make informed decisions about their health and wellbeing”.

Cumbria has previously rated highly in league tables showing infection rates, while figures released in May showed Barrow had the highest rate of coronavirus infections in the country, with 882 infections per 100,000.

As of Monday, 2,278 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in Cumbria, at a rate of 456.6 per 100,000 residents.

Mr Cox spoke ahead of the Prime Minister’s announcement on Tuesday of a further relaxation of lockdown measures and said that vulnerable people who have been shielding would understandably be concerned and anxious about leaving their homes.

“People are now permitted to leave the house for exercise and limited socialising,” he said.

“I understand that for people who are clinically extremely vulnerable the decision to do so won’t be one taken lightly. It’s impossible to say definitely that the situation is safe for people who have been shielding, while COVID-19 is still present in the UK there will always be a level of risk. But it is important that people take into account the latest information about the local situation in Cumbria when deciding what to do. I wish we could provide certainty, but at the moment we can only provide information to help people make the right decision for them. If people do go out it is very important to maintain social distancing and good hygiene practices.”