CUMBRIA'S public health director says initial indications are that case rates may be beginning to stabilise in Carlisle - and may even be falling.

The number of new infections seems to have peaked in the city on January 4, Colin Cox said.

"The number of new infections may be stabilising and early indications are that they may have even started to drop a bit," he said.

"We always expect to see some data go up further as new cases come into the system though."

Mr Cox says the infection rate per 100,000 has fallen from 1,125.3 per 100,000 on January 6 to 1,035 per 100,000 on January 9.

The encouraging data comes as it was revealed by NHS North Cumbria Clinical Commissioning Group that every Primary Care Network (PCN) across north Cumbria is now delivering the Covid-19 vaccine to over 80s and care home residents and staff.

There are eight PCNs – groups of GP Practices working together in local areas – and the vaccine is now being delivered from nine locations.

"The vaccination programme seems to be going well. We have now got vaccination centres across the county," explained Mr Cox.

"Most people are within 10 miles of a vaccination centre. Not everybody. Most of the vaccination is happening in primary care settings. "The Oxford vaccine is starting to roll out to doctors who are readyThere will be other centres coming through."

Mr Cox explained the rollout had gone "mostly how" he expected it to with vaccines being given out as quickly as they are distributed.

He said the number of jabs given out in north Cumbria would fall this week, due to not unexpected distribution challenges. "It is the way it is distributed fairly to everyone," he explained.

Despite intense pressure at hospitals in north and west Cumbria, Mr Cox explained the reinstatement of 'recovery centres' across Cumbria was not being discussed, citing staffing challenges. He said should demand require it the opportunity of sending patients to regional Nightingale hospitals could be considered.

Meanwhile, we have already seen the impact of Christmas and new year, according to Mr Cox. However, he said the true impact of the lockdown would only start to be felt this week.

The public health director said, "hopefully come spring we will see our way out of this, but what will come next in terms of easing restrictions, I'm not entirely sure." He expects some of the lockdown restrictions to have been eased before then, however.

"If we follow this lockdown the restrictions will be enough," Mr Cox said. People must take the message of staying at home seriously, he added.