NEW coronavirus cases in Inverclyde shot up by more than 60 per cent last week.

Statistics released by Public Health Scotland show there were 313 positive tests between June 25 and July 1 compared to 193 in the previous week.

That equates to 4.02 cases per 1,000 people, which is slightly lower than the national average of 4.14.

The largest number of new cases was recorded in Greenock East, where 37 people gave a positive test.

This equates to 5.66 per 1,000 people - the highest rate in Inverclyde.

Other areas where infections were high included Greenock West and Central – where there were 30 new cases – and Gourock East, Greenock West and Lyle Road, where 27 were recorded.

The neighbourhood with the least number of positive tests was Kilmacolm Central, where only six were recorded at a rate of 2.35 per 1,000.

But the area with the lowest case rate was Gourock Upper and West Central and Upper Larkfield which was only 1.92 per 1,000 residents.

Six Scottish health boards are among the top 10 worst-hit regions in Europe for Covid rates according to the World Health Organisation, including NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde, where more than eight infections per 1,000 people were recorded over the past fortnight.

Council leader Stephen McCabe has urged residents to continue abiding by government guidelines.

He said: “The dramatic increase in the rate of the virus here in Inverclyde and across Scotland is concerning.

“I’m sure there won’t be many families that haven’t had at least one member test positive in the past few weeks.

“While we aren’t seeing the same level of hospitalisations as in the previous waves, Covid can nevertheless be a nasty virus that none of us would want to catch.

“I would urge residents to adhere to the current restrictions as long as they are in place and follow the guidance on handwashing, keeping an appropriate social distance and the wearing of face coverings.”

Across other areas of Inverclyde 22 new cases were recorded in Bow Farm, Barrs Cottage, Cowdenknowes and Overton, with the rate there equating to 5.43 per 1,000 people.

Rates of more than five per 1,000 were also recorded in Greenock Upper Central (5.61), Greenock West and Central (5.54), Gourock East, Greenock West and Lyle Road (5.46) and Lower Bow and Larkfield, Fancy Farm and Mallard Bowl (5.01).

Port Glasgow Upper, West and Central was just behind at 4.8 per 1,000, with 26 new infections recorded.

The rate in Braeside, Branchton, Lower Larkfield and Ravenscraig stood at 3.04 per 1,000 as of July 1, while Gourock Central, Upper East and Inverclyde Royal Hospital was at 2.04, Greenock Town Centre and East Central 3.26, and Inverkip and Wemyss Bay 3.47.

Kilmacolm, Quarriers and Greenock Upper East/Central stood at 3.13, Port Glasgow Mid, East and Central was at 3.36, Port Glasgow Upper East came in at 3.61 and West Braeside, East Inverkip and West Gourock stood at 2.34.