Two-thirds of the new cases of coronavirus in West Sussex over a week were detected in Crawley, government data has shown.

Between July 2 and 9 inclusive, 15 people were diagnosed with the virus – taking the countywide total to 2,701 – of which 10 were in Crawley.

Peter Lamb, leader of the borough council, announced the spike in cases during his online Q&A on Thursday, and said he wasn’t really surprised.

The Argus:

Mr Lamb, who keeps a weekly total of the figures, said: “To be frank, seeing a lot of the lack of following of social distancing [rules] that I’ve seen over recent weeks, it’s not a huge surprise.

“People have got to do their best to try to adhere to those rules because it’s very clear whenever a statement comes to you from the government that it’s only appropriate for them to be rolling back these conditions so long as people are following the guidelines.”

As of July 9, the number of cases in Crawley stood at 432, which is 384.2 people per 100,000.

The highest figures in the county overall were recorded in Mid Sussex, with 593 cases – 396.1 per 100,000.

Next was Horsham with 508 cases – 357.2 per 100,000; Worthing with 395 – 359 per 100,000; and Arun with 319 – 199.6 per 100,000.

The lowest figures in West Sussex were recorded in Chichester and Adur, whose cases stood at 269 – 222.8 per 100,000 – and 185 – 289.7 per 100,000 – respectively.

Crawley Borough Council received heavy criticism on social media for not opening its playgrounds last week.

Mr Lamb said they would open on Wednesday (July 15) but warned parents that neither he nor the council thought allowing children to use them was the best idea.

He said: “Having received the guidance from government, it makes it very clear to us that there is a real risk of transmission using these facilities unless they are regularly cleaned .

“We have no way of effectively cleaning them, not regularly enough between children.

“So there will be signage that makes it very clear parents are using them at their own risk and that we do not necessarily believe it’s the best thing for them to do.”

Mr Lamb said some people had been breaking into the playgrounds by climbing the security fences put in place during lock-down.

He added: “There’s very little point in having those restrictions.

“All we can do is make it clear to parents if your children are using them, please do sanitise the equipment before and after your child uses it to ensure their safety and the safety of others.”