A HEALTH chief has warned signs of Cumbria’s Covid recovery are ‘pointing in the wrong direction’ as the new Delta variant has been blamed for a surge in cases.

Colin Cox, Cumbria’s Director of Public Health, said the county’s infection rate remained low but urged Cumbrians to take steps to prevent a spike in infection rates.

The call comes as near neighbours Lancashire and Greater Manchester are seeing the rapid spread of the variant. Government advice is that people should minimise travel in and out of these areas.

In Cumbria new infections rose 88 per cent (71 new cases) in the last week and evidence suggests the new Delta variant is responsible for the rise.

“Our infection rate is still comparatively low, but all the signs are now pointing in the wrong direction,” said Mr Cox.

“Unfortunately, the pandemic is not over and without action we can reasonably expect infection to spread and increasing numbers of people to become ill.

“New infections are concentrated in the younger age groups, those less likely to have been vaccinated.

“While younger people tend to be less badly affected by the virus, if large numbers become infected because this new variant is more contagious, then we could start to see hospitalisations rise again.

“Nationally we are already starting to see this, with a 27 per cent increase in hospital admissions for covid in the last week.”

Cumbrians have also been advised to get vaccinated as soon as possible, follow public health guidance – washing hands, wearing masks, social distancing; continue to do regular rapid result Covid tests at home and get a confirmatory PCR test if you are positive; and if you have symptoms – new persistent cough, high temperature, loss of taste or smell – book a PCR test and self-isolate until your results. If positive, self-isolate for ten days.

Mr Cox added: “It is not inevitable that there will be third wave in Cumbria, but this is the time for people to take stock and think about the things they can do to protect themselves and prevent infection spreading.”