RESOURCES at the NHS are being stretched to their limits to deal with the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic in the county.

In other parts of the country temporary coronavirus hospitals are being set up to ease pressures and deal with the demand.

At a local level, planning is being carried out by the Local Resilience Forum to deal with the impact of the pandemic on our society.

Assistant Chief Constable Andrew Slattery, chairman of the forum, has assured the county he and other members of the group are working hard to try and ease the pressure on the NHS.

Mr Slattery explained: “There is a lot of work going on to plan for the impact of Covid-19 and I am grateful to our partners for all the work they are doing to enable us to prepare for what may be coming.

“This work includes sensible planning around any buildings that could be utilised differently, if needed, and about planning to make sure we have enough capacity in all areas, whether it is increased pressure on NHS services or an increase in the number of deaths.

“There are lots of conversations taking place to make sure we are as ready as we can be and we’ll be making sure our communities know of any formal plans when we have agreed any measures.

“I hope people are reassured by the considerable work already underway – we are taking this very seriously and working hard together for our community.”

In Cumbria there are 145 confirmed cases of patients testing positive for Covid-19, although the real figure is expected to be far higher.

Seven people across the county in both North and South Cumbria have died after contracting the virus.

Director of public health, Colin Cox, said: “Intensive care capacity in the north of Cumbria has been doubled; they now have 30 beds.

“The intention is to do something very similar in the south [of Cumbria].”

Mr Cox noted that every NHS trust in the country is working on how to expand their facilities as the number of seriously ill coronavirus cases continues to rise on a day-to-day bases.

The new facility that could be set up at the Cumberland Infirmary could be regional, he said. “There’s a lot going on, and it’s very much in line with the national strategy.”

Commenting on the current pressures faced by the hospitals in Carlisle and Barrow, Mr Cox said: “I know they are not at full capacity.

“As for exactly when they hit that capacity, it will be in the coming days or weeks.”

He added that the feedback he was getting from partners in Strategic Coordination Group - which brings together key agencies such as the police, NHS, and local authorities - was that people are adhering to the Government’s advice on social distancing. The group has now moved to meeting on a daily basis, including at weekends.