Cumbria’s health bosses are preparing for a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic – and have a plan in place in case a local lockdown is required.

Public health consultant Matt Saunders told a meeting of Cumbria County Council’s health and wellbeing board that age-standardised mortality rates for the county showed Covid-19 related deaths had been lower than the national average in May and and the England average.

However, he admitted that preparations were being made in case a second wave of the pandemic did hit later in the year, as some people have predicted.

Mr Saunders said: “All causes of deaths are currently at levels we would expect to see in a normal year, so they have really come down from the peak that we had in early April, back down to normal levels.

“It certainly feels to me like we are entering the eye of the storm in a way.

“We are hopeful that we will not see a second wave but we continue to be vigilant and to prepare in case there is one.”

Council leader Stewart Young said the figures painted a more positive picture in the county than had looked likely during the early stages of the outbreak.

He said: “If you cast your mind back to the start of all of this, it did seem as though Cumbria was one of the earliest areas to be affected by coronavirus.

“Some of the statistics that were coming out were indicating we were having very high levels of people being identified as testing positive, as well as deaths, but what seems to have happened in a way is other parts of the country have caught up with us and in some cases overtaken us.”

Mr Saunders also presented the county’s outbreak control plan to the board, which is currently in consultation until July 31, to allow any improvements to be made following feedback.

The plan, which was approved by the board, focuses on seven key issues: care homes and schools; high risk places, locations and communities; local testing capacity; contact tracing in complex settings like the Sellafield site; integration of national and local data; support for vulnerable people; and the establishment of local boards to help coordinate the response.

A Covid-19 health protection board has now been established in the county and Mr Saunders said an engagement board would soon be set up which would help in the event that a local lockdown was required.

“If we ever got into the situation where we had a lot of cases and we needed to organise a local lockdown, that decision would need to be balancing the advice of Public Health England with what the impact would be on the communities,” he said.

A survey to record comments on the plan is available at