NORTH Yorkshire has seen a "significant surge" in coronavirus cases recently, and there is 'real concern' the county could move into a higher tier once the national lockdown ends in December.

On Wednesday, Richard Webb, director of health and adult services at North Yorkshire County Council, said the county's infection rate per 100,000 people on a seven-day average was 280, which means, for the first time, it went above the average for England, which was 245.

He explained: "We're talking about a significant surge in cases in North Yorkshire and we're issuing a fresh appeal to the public, for all of us, to work together to fight the virus in our county.

"In particular, in the Scarborough district, which stretches from Staithes to Filey, right through Whitby, and Scarborough town, the infection rate has increased dramatically. In fact, it's more than doubled in less than a week and we now have a North Yorkshire average for the first time which is above the England average infection rates.

"The North Yorkshire rate is 280 and the England average is 245. So this is a dramatic change, it's not unexpected, we have been warning about this. It does give us all pause for thought. We need to act now to stop household mixing, to really limit how far we travel, to take the advice we have been given by the Government to stay home and save lives."

He said in two weeks time the Government will receive the data on the impact of the lockdown and the North Yorkshire Local Resilience Forum will also be assessing its data.

North Yorkshire went into the lockdown at Tier 1 - the lowest level of alert.

However, there is a "real concern" that North Yorkshire will face tougher restrictions coming out of lockdown than it faced going into it, Mr Webb said.

"That's why it's important we do all that we can to tackle this virus," he added.

The county council's chief executive Richard Flinton commented: "Infection rates are soaring in many areas. These are measured as a figure across the seven-day rolling average, per 100,000 people.

"We had been doing very well and we went into the current lockdown in the lowest tier of intervention. Sadly, our current rates put us in a very different place. We now have three areas above the England average, which is 245. Hambleton stands at 263, Harrogate at 295 and levels in Scarborough have soared to 463. Selby is only just below that England average."

He said the facts are "unavoidable" and while most people will be rigidly sticking to the rules, "unfortunately some continue to flout them."

"The outcome is that we all pay for that behaviour," he said. "We all wait longer to see our families, to support our shops and restaurants and to return to the lifestyle we enjoy.

"So what can we do? We can give this fight our absolute focus. We can show the grit and resilience we are famous for. We can explain to those around us why it matters and we can play our part in turning the tide on the virus here.

"Let’s do it for the people and the places we love and take the action that we know will make a difference. Hands, face and make space. No more gatherings, no more rule breaking. Let’s get those rates down and look forward to better times ahead."