YOUNG adults have been warned against bending or breaking lockdown rules after new figures showed a big spike in coronavirus cases among a borough's 20 to 24-year-olds.

Blackburn with Darwen Council's public health director Professor Dominic Harrison issued the plea after infections rates in the age group topped 1,000 per 100,000 individuals on New Year's Day.

His warning has been backed by his Lancashire County Council counterpart Dr Sakthi Karunanithi.

Professor Harrison said: "We are constantly monitoring local trends in the rates of Covid-19 and we have noticed a very significant spike in 20-24 year olds in Blackburn with Darwen.

"Our most recent analysis suggests that our residents aged 20 to 24 have an exceptionally high and rising rate of transmission and now have rates well over 1,000 per 100,000.

"The risk to this group of being infected with Covid-19 may be 30 to 50 per cent higher than the average for the population as a whole.

"Many in this age group will be asymptomatic so won’t even appear in the data.

"This signals that this age group are struggling more than the general population with compliance with lockdown, social distancing, mask wearing and regular hand washing.

"We all understand lockdown is particularly hard for young adults.

"We were all young once, and we appreciate how hard the pandemic has been for this group.

"But I do want to appeal to anyone in this age group directly.

"My message is: 'Please stick strictly to the lockdown rules now in place for this third wave of coronavirus.

'Maybe one in 30 of the people you will be tempted to mix with are infectious and most may be asymptomatic.

'If you are 20 to 24 and you are bending or breaking the lockdown rules and live at home with older more vulnerable adults in your family house, your choice to break the rules could have life threatening consequences for those you love most'.”

Dr Karunanithi said: "We are seeing a spike in coronavirus infections across all age groups.

"But it is clear that there is a big increase in cases among 20 to 24-year-olds in Lancashire.

"The onus is now on all of us to obey the lockdown rules.

"I would support Prof Harrison in calling for 20 to 24-year-olds to observe the restrictions if we are to get on top of this killer disease."