COVID cases are rising in the south west, a regional public health authority has warned.

Dorset residents are being urged to play their part in reducing the spread ahead of the summer holidays.

Dominic Mellon, deputy director of the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) south west, said: “As we now look forward to life without restrictions and head into the social summer holiday period, we must keep in mind that the virus has not gone away.

“In fact, in recent weeks we have seen a rise in cases in the south west with a shift in the dominant strain from the Omicron BA.2 variant.

“The latest data indicates that Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 now account for more than half of rising Covid-19 cases in the UK and are driving the recent increase in infections.”

People have been advised to meet outdoors where possible, wash their hands, stay at home if they have any respiratory symptoms and consider wearing face coverings in crowded and enclosed spaces.

Kheelna Bavalia, medical director for NHS England and NHS Improvement in the south west, added: "With the indicated rise in Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 we must continue to be vigilant and take those important steps that will keep ourselves well and reduce the spread of the virus to others.”