People are being urged to "behave with caution" as Covid infection rates are expected to reach an all-time high in Cumbria.

Copeland has overtaken Allerdale in having the highest rate of new Covid cases, figures show.

According to data from the week ending July 16, Copeland had 1,019 new cases per 100,000 people. Allerdale had 806 cases per 100,000.

Copeland experienced its greatest weekly increase in new cases, with 376 positive cases (+118 per cent from the previous week).

Across Cumbria, new Covid-19 infections exceeded 3,300 - the second highest on record for the county.

And provisional data indicates that the record will have been broken last week.

The overall case rate for the county hit 660 per 100,000 population, compared to an England average of 507 per 100,000.

Cases were lowest in Eden (317 new cases per 100,000 people) and highest in Copeland.

The number of positive tests increased across all age groups but continued to be highest among younger people.

The case rate for under 50s was 1,085 per 100,000 people, compared to 184 per 100,000 for the over 50s.

Among 19-24 year olds, the case rate hit 2,293 per 100,000.

A total of 3,211 people in Cumbria began self-isolation, according to national NHS Test and Trace data - the highest ever number.

Hospitals in the county have started to come under more pressure because of increasing Covid-positive patients being cared for.

Across the county’s two NHS Trusts there was a 43 per cent increase in hospitalisations for the week ending July 20, up from 31 to 54.

Dr Matthew Saunders, consultant in public health at Cumbria County Council, said: “We are now entering uncharted territory and it is hard to predict how high infection rates will rise in the absence of lockdown restrictions.

"The impact of increasing infections is now being widely felt across the county’s economy as thousands self-isolate and this is creating real difficulties for employers.

"While numbers in hospital remain significantly below previous highs, they are increasing, and this is putting additional pressure on hospitals already facing extremely high levels of demand for non-Covid care.

“While most legal restrictions have been lifted, I strongly encourage people to continue to behave with caution, especially if you are vulnerable or are in frequent contact with vulnerable people, and even if you have been vaccinated.

"Wearing a mask in busy indoor spaces will help, as will washing hands regularly, avoiding crowds and giving people space.

"I’d also remind people that the whole test and trace system is one thing that has not changed, there is still a legal requirement to self-isolate if you test positive for Covid, or if you are asked to by NHS Test and Trace.”