The rate of Covid cases in the Cotswolds remains the second lowest in the South West, despite new infections rising in six areas, according to Public Health England figures.

The number of Covid cases per 100,000 people in the Cotswolds increased from 16 in the week ending March 6, to 17 in the seven days ending March 13 – or six per cent.

Only Cheltenham had a lower rate of new infections, falling almost 43 per cent from 28 per 100,000 people to 16.

A small rise in case rates was also detected in South Gloucestershire, North and South Somerset, Somerset West and Taunton, and Sedgemoor.

Swindon's and Wiltshire's cases did not change between March 6 and March 13, while cases declined in the remaining areas of the South West.

The news comes while the country is half way through the first step of the Government’s ‘roadmap’ out of lockdown, after school’s opened on March 8 and two people were allowed to socialise in a public place.

As it stands, outdoor gathers of either six people or two households will be permitted from March 29. Outdoor sports facilities and organised sports are also expected to return.

The highest rates of new Covid-19 infections were reported in Swindon, with 70 per 100,000 people, South Somerset, with 56, and South Gloucestershire, with 44.

Step two in the Government’s roadmap will begin April 12 at the earliest.