Coronavirus cases in East Ayrshire have jumped up in the past week to put the council area in the unwelcome position of being the worst affected area in the country.

And the weekly totals are enough to put it at fourth on the list of council areas UK-wide.

Last week we reported how there were 188 cases recorded across a seven day period from January 31 - February 6.

The latest seven day figures show that this number is now 379, or 310.6 per 100,000 of population.

To put that into comparison the nearest local authority area by this measure is Clackmannanshire with a seven day rater per 100,000 of 221.2.

If we take the current rate of virus prevalence in East Ayrshire and compare it with the rest of the UK's council areas, we must do so with caution.

Public Health England data is two days behind PHS, but if we were to place the current rate in East Ayrshire amongst the areas in all of the UK for the week from February 4-7 then East Ayrshire would be rated fourth worst in the UK, behind Middlesborough (322.7), Walsall (326.1), and Sandwell (328.5).

Something has gone badly wrong in East Ayrshire, cases were declining at a good rate up until last week when they suddenly shot up. 

So why the increase?

It could be down to an outbreak at HMP Kilmarnock. Public Health Scotland data shows that there were 214 cases in the Kilmarnock South Central and Caprington neighbourhood, 200 more than in any neighbourhood. It is also the neighbourhood closest to the prison.

We asked NHS Ayrshire & Arran if the rise was connected to the prison and wether it poses any threat to the wider public.

To which, Joy Tomlinson, Joint Director of Public Health responded by saying that they are "aware of a recent increase in the number of positive coronavirus cases in the East Ayrshire council area" and that they "are supporting a local facility in East Ayrshire area following confirmation of a number of COVID-19 cases."

The outbreak does however, appear to be confined to the prison, with other areas in East Ayrshire reporting similar weekly numbers to before the emergence of the HMP Kilmarnock cases.