THE DELTA variant of Covid-19 – previously known as the Indian variant – has arrived in Cumbria 'with a bang'.

That’s the word of the county’s top health official, Colin Cox – and the director of public health is warning that there may be some changes to the plans to ease all restrictions later this month.

After remaining stable for six weeks at around eight new cases per 100,000 each week, last week Cumbria saw a rate of 13 cases per 100,000 – the majority of which, according to Mr Cox, are thought to be the Delta variant.

He said: “The Delta variant has arrived with a bang. In May we had a trickle of cases which we found were very connected, we knew where they came from and we had people isolating.

“Last week suddenly there were lots of cases. We don’t know where some of them have come from, there are cases that aren’t connected. People don’t know where they’ve got it.

“You wouldn’t expect to see a rise in hospitalisations yet, that tends to lag behind cases by about a fortnight. It does look as if for those who haven’t been vaccinated, it might be more dangerous – you’re more likely to end up in hospital.

“If you have been vaccinated, it still provides protection.”

A total of 345,000 people in Cumbria have now received their first dose of a Covid-19 vaccination, while 240,000 have had two doses.

This equates to around 80 per cent of all over 50s – and there are hopes all over 50s will have had both jabs in the next two to three weeks.

Despite that, Mr Cox fears there may be an impact on the road map out of lockdown, with all restrictions due to end on June 21.

He said: “Vaccination is the way out of this, as long as we don’t get any vaccine-resistant virus.

“The Government will be watching the data very carefully. My instinct is there may be some change. Whether they will postpone everything is another question, I don’t know.

“Minimise contact with others within the current restrictions and if you’re symptomatic, please self-isolate."