The rate of new coronavirus cases identified in Copeland remains below the county’s average, as Sellafield’s chief executive provides reassurance over a “small outbreak” of Covid-19.

Copeland’s rate of Covid-19 infection, calculated as the number of positive cases per 100,000 people per week, is according to the latest figures a little over half the Cumbria-wide rate, which itself is below the UK’s average.

In the seven days up to last Wednesday, there were 642 Covid-19 cases identified in Cumbria.

This is a 12.4 per cent increase on the previous week, and is a rate of just over 128 cases per 100,000 people.

In the same period, Copeland’s rate was 74.8 cases identified per 100,000 people.

A total of 51 cases were identified, one fewer than the previous week.

The Mirehouse, Kells and Woodhouse area and the Parton and Distington area were two areas within Copeland that recorded rises in their Covid-19 numbers in the seven days up to last Wednesday, with nine and six new cases identified respectively in each area.

Many areas in Copeland recorded the same number of new cases or fewer in the week up to last Wednesday, compared to the previous week.

Sellafield’s chief executive Martin Chown confirmed on Friday that the previous week, a “small outbreak” of Covid-19 had been “contained” in one of the facilities at Sellafield’s main site.

“We are still seeing a number of positive cases – although a very small number of positive cases – looking at the size of our workforce,” he said.

“I believe we’re [at] about nine positive cases, with a further six in the NHS system.”

Mr Chown stressed that this represents a “very low instance of Covid” in proportion to the total workforce size.

Another stark difference between Copeland and Cumbria as a whole has been highlighted by new statistics released by the Cumbria Intelligence Observatory.

The figures highlight that Copeland has experienced some of the lowest rates of employees placed on the Government’s furlough scheme across the country, with only 25 per cent of the workforce placed on furlough – far lower than the Cumbria-wide average of 34 per cent.

This is slightly higher than the national average of 32 per cent.