Don't sing in the car or you'll spread the virus, health chiefs warn
Health chiefs have warned people not to sing in the car in a bid to avoid spreading the coronavirus to other passengers.
The West Midlands has seen a surge in cases linked to workplaces in recent weeks, including a major outbreak in Sandwell at the CBS Packaging factory in West Bromwich.
And public health officials believe part of the reason for the spike is down to people travelling to work together in the same vehicles.
Dr Sue Ibbotson, Public Health England's (PHE) director in the West Midlands, said an investigation had unearthed evidence linking the rise in Covid-19 cases to car sharing.
She advised people to consider using other forms of transport to get to work, such as cycling or walking.
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Outlining advice for those who have no choice but to car share, she said: "Do try not to talk loudly or shout or sing or face each other, because that will increase the risk of transmission."
Dr Ibbotson also said people who car share should use a "buddy system", where the same people share the same vehicle every day.
She said there should be no more than one passenger per row, and urged people to keep windows open and wear face coverings. Cars should also be cleaned between journeys, she added.
Speaking at a West Midlands Combined Authority coronavirus briefing today, she said the issue was "not unique to the region, but is happening and causing issues".
"There is a risk and it is not unexpected," she added. "Cars and vans are confined spaces and transmission is much easier than it is when outside.
"It is one of the factors we are seeing in some outbreaks, that people may have been travelling together."
Clive Wright, a West Midlands regional convenor for the Department of Health and Social Care, said car sharing had been connected to the recent outbreak at a farm in Herefordshire.
It came as regional leaders made a desperate plea for people to get back onto public transport, with West Midlands Mayor Andy Street among those to warn against car sharing with multiple different passengers.
He told the meeting that the revival of the public transport system was "critical" for the region's economic revival.
West Midlands Trains (WMT) managing director, Julian Edwards, said trains were currently running at 20 per cent capacity. He said longer trains had been laid on to aid social distancing and that more people travelling early in the morning than before the lockdown.
"The trains are running, they are longer trains, they are clean. Timetables are running reliably and I encourage our users to give us a try again and to have the confidence to be able to perhaps include trains and other public transport back in their usual regimes."
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