No cases of the Indian variant of Covid-19 have been recorded in Cumbria, according to the county’s top health boss.

Cumbria County Council’s director of public health Colin Cox, confirmed that the strain – which is causing concern – has been recorded in other parts of the North West, however.

There has been some talk of local lockdowns to control any outbreaks, rather than a return to the tier system - but Dr Cox is unsure whether the Indian variant will necessitate that.

He said: “The national concern is about the Indian variant and that is a cause for concern – but there have been no recorded cases in Cumbria.

“There have been a few in Bolton and Lancashire and other parts of the North West. So, it’s close, but there still haven’t been any in Cumbria.

“We’re not yet completely clear whether it could create a third wave. I think our understanding is that it’s not resistant to the vaccines.

"Local lockdowns depend on the situation. There's none in the areas were it is currently spreading."

Dr Cox also provided an update on the current Covid-19 rates in Cumbria.

He added: “Things are pretty calm. The case rates are still low, about five new cases per 100,000 a week. They’ve been like that for a little while so it’s still looking good.

“The case rates are low. I think the changes next week are absolutely fine, but the key thing is people have to follow the new rules and don't completely relax their guard.

"It's the biggest relaxation of rules yet. It's important that we do as we have and relax slowly and carefully. I would urge people to follow the new rules."

The county's vaccine rollout is continuing, but the pace remains much slower than it was earlier this year.

Dr Cox also discussed the possibility of the need for "booster shots" in the autumn and winter.

He continued: "Vaccinations are relatively slow for now, but we've vaccinated more than 300,000 people and more than half are fully vaccinated.

"At the moment, hospitals are busy but not with Covid. There's a huge amount of work going on catching up.

"If booster vaccinations happen, it will be a national programme. I know it's being investigated.

"There's no rush, but it is being looked at."