People called on to be vigilant after rise in Covid-19 cases in area of Sandwell

People living in an area of Sandwell have been called on to be vigilant after a spike in the number of Covid-19 cases.

Health chiefs issued the plea after 54 positive cases were recorded in Friar Park, Wednesbury, in the week up to December 1.

It means the rate of infection is 424 per 100,000 – 35 per cent above the average rate of 274 per 100,000 for Sandwell overall.

Sandwell Council’s director of public health, Lisa McNally, said: "The rise in infection within Friar Park is a concern and we’d ask local people to take extra care. Wearing a face covering and ensuring we are fully vaccinated are incredibly important right now, especially as we face the new challenge of the Omicron variant.

"We have already redesigned our local contact tracing service to use s-gene data and travel history to find any new cases of the Omicron variant. This will allow us to put the right measures in place as soon as possible and reduce the spread of the new variant in our area."

It comes as fears continue to grow over the rise of the Omicron variant which is sweeping across the country after it was confirmed cases had been discovered in the West Midlands.

The contact tracing service run by the Sandwell Council public health team, one of the first local contact tracing services set up in the UK, is already working to detect cases of the Omicron variant in the area.

Sandwell Council’s cabinet member for adults, social care and health, Councillor Suzanne Hartwell, said: "We are now required to wear a face covering in shops and on public transport. Wearing a face covering in any indoor area can reduce the spread of the virus.

"Vaccination is also crucial. We need to take up every jab for which we are eligible to maximise our protection against coronavirus. This is especially true in the light of concerns that the Omicron variant may be more resistant to vaccine effects."

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