Dorset is one of nine areas in the county most likely to suffer badly from the coronavirus pandemic – according to a national study.

Not because of the numbers with the illness, but because of the knock-on effects to the local economy, education and mental and physical health.

Weymouth and Portland is already rated amongst the most deprived areas in the country with people dying younger than elsewhere in Dorset, widespread low incomes and a high number of seasonal or unskilled jobs.

Weymouth Cllr Brian Heatley says the average age of the population has an effect initially in outbreaks as does the number of workless families and those in poverty.

He told fellow councillors that the claims come from a theoretical study by the Institute of Fiscal Studies which looked at how different geographical areas would be affected by Covid.

He said that the study showed that places which rely on tourism and the hospitality industries are likely to be most vulnerable in the medium term. Also having an effect, in the medium and long term, was the number of families in poverty because of the effects that has on children due to the educational disadvantages they are likely to suffer.

The Rodwell and Wyke Green councillor said that the study should make the council think carefully about the balance of its response to any future upturn, or second spike, in Covid.

“We are not going to want to do things which affect our tourist industry and associated industries because we have taken a big enough hit there already; we are going to be very concerned to get our children back to school and all the children back to school, and that means that the medical part of the response has to bear, perhaps, a rather greater weight in a place like Dorset than it might do elsewhere…

“We are probably not going to want widescale lockdowns because of the effect on our economy and perhaps the most important single thing we can do is the test and trace system, but I’m wondering whether we are making enough resources available for this,” he told the council’s resources scrutiny committee.

He said that a council paper showed than only three people in the public health team were being made available for the local test and trace service, although he was later told that environmental health officers could be drafted in to help in the case of a larger outbreak.

“This should become our first line of defence,” said Cllr Heatley, claiming that places which had done well in the battle against Covid were those areas where action had been taken quickly.

Council chief executive Matt Prosser said the council understood the priorities and had plans in place to support families and encourage a return to school as well as to quickly tackle any outbreak through the local track and trace arrangements.