Northumberland has seen a 10-fold increase in Covid-19 cases in a six-week period, councillors were told.

Director of public health, Liz Morgan, reported that in the two weeks up to August 18, there were 27 cases, followed by 65 in the next fortnight, and then 266 in the 14 days to September 18.

At the county council’s health and wellbeing committee, she said the latest data suggested an infection rate of 40 per 100,000, which has doubled in the last week to 10 days.

“Across the seven local authorities, Northumberland and County Durham still have the lowest rates, but our rates are escalating rapidly and it will be a couple of weeks before we know if any of the restrictions have had any impact in trying to contain rates at the current level,” she added.

Ms Morgan also noted that there had been increasing positive tests coming from the NHS, suggesting that more people with Covid-19 are being admitted to hospital, but also a general increase in community transmission.

“What we have now is widespread community transmission,” she added.

Haltwhistle county councillor, Coun. Ian Hutchinson, raised concerns about the clarity of the new restrictions and doubts that people were following the new rules properly, adding: “It’s a bit of a mess actually.”