Warning as Wolverhampton becomes second Black Country borough to see coronavirus spike
People in Wolverhampton are being asked to remain vigilant after a spike in the number of Covid-19 cases in the city over the last week.
There has been an average of 10.3 new cases per 100,000 residents in the seven days up to today, compared to 2.7 cases per 100,000 people in previous weeks.
The trend is similar to that seen in the neighbouring Sandwell borough, where public health bosses have warned businesses could be forcibly closed after the rate of infection increased.
A factory in West Bromwich has closed voluntarily for two weeks after a third of the workforce caught the disease and Albion fans were warned to stay aware from vulnerable people after social distancing was ignored by many at the promotion celebrations on Wednesday.
Wolverhampton Council health chiefs say many of the new cases have been linked to family clusters or contacts of known cases.
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Director of Public Health, John Denley, said: "Over the last month or so the number of coronavirus cases in Wolverhampton have thankfully remained low and stable. However, our careful monitoring of data, along with effective testing and contact tracing, has identified a small increase in cases within the last few days.
"This is a timely reminder to us that Covid-19 hasn't gone away, and that we need to remain vigilant.
"While it is important that we can see family and friends, we must all continue to stay at home as much as possible, limit contact with people outside our own households or bubbles, observe social distancing by keeping at least two metres away from others, or one metre-plus if this is not possible, and not meeting in large groups.
"From today we must also wear face coverings if we are in shops, supermarkets, takeaways, hospitals or using public transport.
"It is really important that anyone who has any symptoms of Covid-19, including a high temperature, a new, continuous cough or a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste, self-isolates immediately and books a test as soon as possible
“Through the NHS Test and Trace system, when someone tests positive for Covid-19, the close contacts identified are told to self-isolate and get tested if they become symptomatic. It’s vital that people co-operate with NHS Test and Trace if they are contacted as this will help reduce the spread of the virus and avoid outbreaks and local lockdowns."
So far 285 people have died with coronavirus at the Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust, which runs New Cross and Cannock Chase hospitals, and 70 people have died in care homes in Wolverhampton after contracting the disease.
Mr Denley added: "We are working tirelessly to keep everyone safe in Wolverhampton. We are expanding our testing provision across the city to make testing more accessible for residents and workers.
"We are working with our communities, businesses and faith groups to help them be Covid-secure, and will be handing out face coverings in high risk areas in the coming days.
“We are sending out care packs to people who have been shielding to help them out when the period of shielding is paused on 1 August.
“And we are rolling out proactive swabbing of people working in more of our higher risk settings so that we can reduce the likelihood of potential outbreaks and, if there is an outbreak, are able to get on top of the situation sooner.
"It's important to stress that the rise in cases we have seen over the last few days does not mean we are at a point where we are looking at a local lockdown, as we have seen in other parts of the country, but we really need everyone to continue following the guidance to ensure that we can control the virus.”