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Health bosses urge residents to help halt rise in Covid cases amid Euro fever

Public health leaders are urging people in the Black Country and Staffordshire to help halt the recent rise in cases as the easing of some national restrictions begins this week.

Care home residents can now nominate an essential caregiver to visit them, even if the resident is isolating, and attendance limits at weddings, funerals and other commemorative events will be based on how many people a Covid-secure venue can safely host with social distancing measures in place.

Step 4 of the Government’s roadmap from lockdown and the lifting of all restrictions has been pushed back to at least July 19 due to concerns over the rise in cases nationally and the emergence of the Delta variant.

And with Euro 2020 in full swing and more relaxed restrictions around social contact, people are being urged to get a free rapid Covid-19 test before they meet up with others.

Staffordshire has seen significant outbreaks in areas such as Leek and Newcastle-under-Lyme, and there have been more than 500 new cases in the last week.

Latest figures show 131 people in Wolverhampton tested positive for Covid-19 in the seven days to 19 June, though the true number of new cases will likely be higher as a third of people with Covid-19 do not have any symptoms.

Staffordshire County Council’s cabinet support member for public health and integrated care, Dr Johnny McMahon, urged residents to do all they can to reverse the recent rise in cases.

He said: “Staffordshire people have worked extremely hard to keep case rates low, but recent local outbreaks show that this virus can spread extremely quickly through our communities when given the opportunity.

“We can’t afford to let this happen and risk further delays in the easing of restrictions for people and businesses in the county, so I’m urging all residents to continue the hard work and keep following the rules and getting tested regularly.

“All adults are now eligible for their first dose of the vaccine, so if you are 18 and over, please book an appointment as soon as possible.”

Wolverhampton Council is encouraging people across the city to take a rapid coronavirus test twice a week, ideally three or four days apart.

Councillor Jasbir Jaspal, Wolverhampton Council’s cabinet member for public health and wellbeing, said: “With the Delta variant now being the most dominant strain, and infection rates continuing to rise, it’s even more important that people do all they can to stop the spread.

“So, whether you are off to work or the gym, or planning to meet up with friends and family to watch the Euros, for a coffee or meal, a big night out or any other social occasion, you should get a regular rapid Covid-19 test before doing so.

“This will give you the peace of mind that you are not unknowingly carrying the virus and potentially putting your friends, family or colleagues at risk.

“Rapid tests are free and you’ll get your result inside 30 minutes, so get up, get tested and help us get back to normal quicker.”

Councillor Jaspal added: “It is important that people remember to register their test results, even if they are negative, as every test completed, whether positive or negative, helps us to monitor the spread of the virus in Wolverhampton.”

Dr Lisa McNally, Sandwell Council’s Director of Public Health, said: “The virus has not gone away and it is still deadly. New evidence suggests infection with the Delta variant is linked with a higher risk of hospitalisation and that it also spreads more easily.

“There have been a number of outbreaks across extended families and friends, so it is vital everyone living and working in Sandwell remembers to protect themselves and others as cases of Covid-19 variants continue to rise.

“Wash your hands regularly, wear a face covering where you are required to, keep a two-metre distance from others.

“If you’re meeting people, outside is safer. If you are in the company of people you don’t live with, keep your distance at all times to avoid infection. If a business is not doing all it can to keep you safe and following Covid-secure measures, don’t go there.

“Never leave your home or meet with others if you have Covid-19 symptoms. Staying home and booking a test can save lives. Only leave home to have your test.

“People aged 18 and over (before 1 July 2021) can now book their Covid-19 vaccination. If you are eligible, please get your jab as soon as you can to help protect yourself and your loved ones. The vaccine is your best defence against the virus.

“It’s really important to get your second vaccine jab to give you the maximum protection. Some second doses of the Covid-19 vaccine will move forward to be given eight weeks after the first dose. You will receive a text or call to bring your appointment forward. And if you had your jab at Tipton Sports Academy or Saddlers Centre, you can just turn up for your second dose without an appointment.

“It’s really important that adults do a rapid (lateral flow) test twice a week – especially now we’re meeting up with more people. If you test positive for Covid-19 using a rapid test, you must self-isolate with your household and book a PCR test within 48 hours to confirm your positive result.”

Councillor Nicolas Barlow, cabinet member for health and adult social care at Dudley Council, said: “We know case numbers have increased in the borough so we must follow the rules, be cautious about the number of people we mix with and most importantly get the vaccine. Anyone aged 18 or above can now have their vaccine, please book your appointment today if you haven’t already. It’s vitally important that as many people are vaccinated as possible if we want restrictions to ease.

“Also remember to isolate and get a PCR test if you have any symptoms or are feeling unwell, such as a sore throat and runny nose. When you have no symptoms, please have twice weekly LFD symptom free tests, which will help identify undetected cases of the virus.”

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