Cumbria's Director of Public Health has warned of problems with coronavirus vaccination supplies, after the county announced it had experienced its worst week for new Covid-19 infections in the pandemic so far.
Speaking to ITV News, Grant Shapps said the vaccine rollout is "making good progress" toward the aim of offered jabs to the 13.9 million people considered England's most vulnerable by February 15.
Colin Cox believes the central supply of vaccines is holding up the roll-out, as he says the county remains "in an extremely serious situation".
3,489 people tested positive for Covid-19 in the week ending 8 January – a 39% rise on the previous week.
Infections rates are high across the county, especially in Carlisle where the infection rate was 1,151 per 100,000 population.
Hospitals remain under intense pressure, particularly in the north of the county where there has been a 63% increase in the number of COVID-19 patients since last week. There are now around 270 people being treated in north Cumbrian hospitals.
Sadly, a further 59 people have died from COVID-19 in the seven days to 12 January.
This brings the total number of COVID-19 deaths in Cumbria since the start of the pandemic to 833.
The full weekly COVID-19 situation report can be found here.
Colin Cox, Cumbria’s Director of Public Health, said:
"In the very latest provisional data, there are some early signs that the rate of increase in new infections may be slowing, but the infection rate is still very high.
“Even if that trends continues, we can expect the very high numbers of people requiring hospital care, and increasing deaths, to continue for some weeks. This is putting our local NHS system under intense pressure."
I cannot stress strongly enough how important it is that we all follow the lockdown rules. The virus spreads when people come into contact, we must do everything we can to stop unnecessary contact with other people. Where being in contact with others is unavoidable, keep your distance, wear a mask, wash your hands – it does make a difference.
A study by Public Health England (PHE) released on Thursday 14 January, found antibodies from past infection provide 83% protection against reinfection for at least five months.
It means people who had coronavirus in the first wave could now catch it again.
Since June, PHE has been testing tens of thousands of healthcare workers across the UK for new coronavirus infections and antibodies.
High street pharmacies have begun rolling out Covid vaccines, as the virus death toll across the UK climbed above 100,000.
Boots and Superdrug branches are among the six stores across England able to administer the jabs from Thursday 14 January, while the government aims to hit its target of vaccinating all people in the four most vulnerable groups by the middle of next month.