PARTS of Cumbria could be put in "local lockdown" if health chiefs believe it is necessary to control coronavirus flare-ups.

That was the clear message this afternoon from Health Secretary Matt Hancock in response to a direct question from the News & Star during the government’s daily Downing Street briefing.

During the press conference, Mr Hancock and one of the Government’s scientific advisors outlined their belief that the UK has now passed it’s first-wave peak of Covid-19 deaths and infections, supporting the plan for an easing of the blanket national lockdown.

But with some experts - including Cumbrian health chiefs - fearful of a second wave of coronavirus infections, the News & Star pointed out that a flood of returning visitors – especially to the Lake District – could potentially fuel a fresh surge in infections.

Mr Hancock told the News & Star he was aware of particular problems with Covid-10 “flare-ups” in some areas – including in Barrow.

He said: “The short answers is yes; we will have local lockdowns in future where there are flare-ups and we have a system that we’re putting in place with a combination of Public Health England and the New Joint Biosecurity Centre along with the local directors of public health, who play an absolutely crucial role in the decision making in this system to make sure if there is a local flare-up, we have a local lockdown.”

Local lockdowns would be part of the test and trace system the government is launching, he said.

Professor John Newton pointed out that different parts on the country face different considerations in the battle with Covid-19, with some areas - including Cumbria - facing considerably higher infection rates than elsewhere. 

He said: “The Lake District is a very special place: it has a lot of visitors and it has a lot of open space and it’s difficult to reach parts of it.”