A HEALTH chief says figures showing the South Lakes has one of the highest rates of coronavirus infection in the country should be ‘viewed with caution’.

Aaron Cummins, chief executive of University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust, said it was ‘important’ the high levels of testing the trust has carried out was taken into account.

Figures from Public Health England showed the South Lakes was third in a table of COVID-19 infection rates per 100,000 resident population.

“While we are right to be concerned because the virus is still a challenge to our country, these figures should be viewed with caution,” said Mr Cummins.

“It is difficult to carry out a like-for-like comparison for different areas because of the different age structures and other socio-demographic factors, and of course, the varying levels of testing that have been carried out.

“As a trust, we have been testing our colleagues and their family members, local care home staff and other key workers for a significant amount of time and in large numbers.

"It is important that these figures are viewed in this context.

"Further investigation of the data, including the figures from the national testing centres that opened recently, needs to be carried out.

"However, it does highlight the point that the work isn’t over yet.

"We are still fighting coronavirus and as a trust and wider communities.”

Mr Cummins also called on the public to stay vigilant against coronavirus as cases fall.

“Now more than ever it is really important to recognise our responsibility to keep this disease at bay, to adhere to social distancing, to remember to wash your hands and to do all we can to make sure that we’re protecting ourselves and each other from the disease," he said.

NHS England has reported one death of a coronavirus patient at Morecambe Bay trust hospitals this week.