Sandwell one step closer to lockdown after coronavirus outbreak at Asda in Smethwick

Sandwell has moved a step closer to a local lockdown as the borough recorded yet another workplace outbreak.

The outbreak happened at Asda in Smethwick
The outbreak happened at Asda in Smethwick

The latest cases have led to local leaders issuing a blunt reminder that Covid-19 kills, after the Smethwick Asda supermarket on Cape Hill reported eight new infections on Monday.

Sandwell's director of public health, Dr Lisa McNally, has strongly urged everyone in the area to avoid social gatherings and said Sandwell is in a "very serious situation".

Warley MP John Spellar has reminded everyone to strictly follow procedures such as hand washing and social distancing to ensure they stay safe.

Latest infection rates in region:

The list is based on Public Health England data published on September 1 on the Government’s coronavirus online dashboard.

Data for the most recent three days (August 30-September 1) has been excluded as it is incomplete and likely to be revised.

From left to right, the list reads: name of local authority; rate of new cases in the seven days to August 29; number (in brackets) of new cases recorded in the seven days to August 29; rate of new cases in the seven days to August 22; number (in brackets) of new cases recorded in the seven days to August 22.

  • Birmingham 29.4 (336), 24.3 (278)

  • Sandwell 27.7 (91), 21.0 (69)

  • Wolverhampton 12.5 (33), 16.7 (44)

  • Walsall 8.8 (25), 14.0 (40)

  • Dudley 8.4 (27), 6.5 (21)

  • Wyre Forest 7.9 (8), 4.9 (5)

  • Shropshire 7.7 (25), 7.1 (23)

  • Stafford 5.1 (7), 5.1 (7)

  • Telford and Wrekin 3.3 (6), 11.7 (21)

  • South Staffordshire 1.8 (2), 5.3 (6)

  • Cannock Chase 1.0 (1), 7.9 (8)

Mr Spellar said: "There were a number of employees at Asda affected by the outbreak, and I was pleased Sandwell Council's public health team moved so quickly, working with the employer to determine who had been affected, who needed to be sent home, and which area of the store needed to be cleaned.

"We also hope that those who are sent home from Asda continue to be paid.

"My message to people would also be to report it to their workplace immediately if they have symptoms, they need to think fast to contain the virus. And everyone should also follow procedures and wash their hands and keep socially distanced."

More Covid-19 coverage:

The Asda store was operating as normal today – and is still open to customers. A spokesperson for Asda said the company immediately informed health bosses when it became aware of the cases – and is carrying out regular deep cleaning.

It comes just weeks after a similar outbreak at the DPD hub in Oldbury, where 19 workers tested positive.

Dr McNally said: "We are strongly advising everyone to avoid crowds and social gatherings as much as possible right now.

"This is a serious situation and we all need to be very careful."

Daily number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Sandwell since June 1

Smethwick, St Paul’s and Soho and Victoria wards have recorded the highest increases since July and remain hot spots for Covid-19.

The latest Public Health England data shows Sandwell had an infection rate of 27.7 cases per 100,000 people in the seven days to Saturday, an increase from 21 cases the week before.

This is more than double the rate of infection in Wolverhampton, which had the second highest rate of the Black Country boroughs at 12.5 cases per 100,000 people.

However the rate in Birmingham remained even higher at 29.4 cases per 100,000 people.

Sandwell has been declared an area of enhanced support as it moved up a local authority watch-list of boroughs with high infection rates.

It remains just short of the ultimate intervention level when councils can impose a lockdown closing shops, businesses, cancelling public events and impose restrictions on people meeting outside of their homes.

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