SOUTH Lakeland is a ‘good way off’ requiring local lockdown measures, Cumbria’s public health chief has said.

His comment comes after the number of positive Coronavirus (Covid-19) cases in the area doubled in the past two weeks compared to the previous fortnight.

There were 19 new positive cases in the South Lakes between July 27 and August 9 - according to the latest data published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Director of Public Health Colin Cox explained most of the new cases were recorded in care homes across the South Lakes.

“The new cases, located mainly among a number of care homes across the district, are not at all localised to one small area within the South Lakes,” he said.

“We suspect this is largely down to the new testing approach in place at care homes - which means more regular testing for both residents and staff - that began in recent weeks.

“We’re a considerable way off the trends witnessed in Greater Manchester over recent weeks - where the numbers and rate of infection were of a much greater magnitude.

“It’s not as if once you hit a certain point or statistical threshold, and then a lockdown is suddenly enacted.

"This is something that gets discussed with the national public health team every week and which is regularly being assessed and re-assessed.

“As you come out of a lockdown you’d expect a slight rise. The question now is whether we can keep it to a slight rise.

“The virus has not gone away - it’s very much still out there. And this is absolutely not a moment for complacency in terms of safety precautions and social distancing measures.”

At the height of the virus’ spread, South Lakeland recorded 26 confirmed cases on April 6 which is the area’s highest throughout the pandemic.

There have been a total of 59 new positive cases confirmed in the county in the last week, which is an increase of 12 on the week before.

The MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale, Tim Farron, said: “Throughout this crisis, Cumbria has tested and traced far better than the rest of the country, and so it’s not a surprise that we find more cases than other places.

"If the rise in cases becomes much worse, a local lockdown could be necessary to save lives.

"But given we know what additional damage that would do to our economy, it’s all the more incentive for all of us to strictly follow the guidelines."