Council and health chiefs are urging Wulfrunians to limit all household-to-household contact as the city steps up the fight against Covid-19.
They are calling on residents to voluntarily follow the measures which have been introduced in neighbouring Sandwell, Birmingham and Solihull today – where all household-to-household contact is now banned – as infection rates continue to rise across the region. Latest data shows there were 53.06 cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 residents in Wolverhampton in the seven days to 11 September, compared to 28.21 in the seven days to 4 September. Nearly 90% of cases relate to transmission within the household or from one household to another.
Councillor Ian Brookfield, Leader of the City of Wolverhampton Council, said: “We’ve seen a massive increase in Covid-19 infection rates in Wolverhampton over the last fortnight and we need everyone to redouble their efforts to stop the spread of the virus if we are to save lives and sustain our economic recovery. We are already having conversations with Government about our increasing infection rate and want to avoid having to reintroduce more restrictive lockdown measures if we can possibly help it. That’s why we’re asking residents to do everything they can to help, now. We know that the virus is primarily spreading within and between households, so we need people to stay in their household or family bubble wherever possible.
“If you must mix with other households, please do so safely by observing social distancing at all times and following the so-called ‘rule of six’ which was been introduced in England yesterday. Our advice focuses on household-to-household contact, as the evidence doesn't point to an increase in transmission in workplaces, schools or other settings at this stage.
"And we don't want to stop people going about their daily business, so long as they can do it safely. For instance, you can go to a restaurant or pub, or the shops, as a household or bubble. At the same time, it’s really important that businesses help people to remain in their household or bubbles – for instance by pubs and restaurants ensuring family groups have enough space to keep their distance from one another, and by employers enabling social distancing where required.
“We know how hard it is for everyone to keep up the fight against Covid-19, but we’ve seen further restrictions introduced in other parts of the West Midlands and, unless we all do our bit to stop the spread of the virus locally, we will face a similar lockdown here in Wolverhampton in the near future.”
There are four simple steps people must take to protect each other:
- Hands - Wash your hands regularly and for 20 seconds.
- Face - Wear a face covering in indoor settings where social distancing may be difficult, and where you come into contact with people you do not normally meet.
- Space - Stay 2m apart from people you do not live with, or 1m with extra precautions in place (such as wearing face coverings) where 2m is not possible.
- Test and Trace – Get a test if you have symptoms of Covid-19, however mild, and share your contact details for Test and Trace purposes.
When seeing friends and family you do not live with you should:
- follow social distancing rules
- limit how many different people you see socially over a short period of time
- meet people outdoors wherever practical, because fresh air provides better ventilation.
The rule of six makes it illegal for people in England to meet in a group of more than six, indoors or outdoors, unless people are part of the same household or support bubble, or in certain circumstances such as where gatherings are for work or education purposes or for weddings, funerals and team sports. Anyone breaking the law can be fined £100 by police, doubling for further breaches up to a maximum of £3,200.
Councillor Jasbir Jaspal, Cabinet Member for Public Health and Wellbeing, said: “Social distancing is essential as Covid-19 is more likely to spread when people are close together. An infected person can pass on the virus through talking, breathing, coughing or sneezing, even if they don’t have symptoms. You should avoid physical contact with people you don't live with, avoid crowded areas with lots of people and avoid touching things that other people have touched before you. Where you can't stay 2m apart, stay at least 1m and take extra steps such as wearing a face covering."
She added: "We are all in this together, and the more we follow the Hands, Face, Space guidelines, the more we can stop the spread of the virus – so please play your part."
Dr Salma Reehana, local GP and Clinical Chair for Wolverhampton Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “Your GPs and staff in Primary Care are trying hard to ensure you have access to health care when you need it most, but services will be stretched. You can help by taking the precautions that the council has set out, which will help ensure health care provision is maintained when it is most needed for you. Please follow guidelines as much as possible to protect yourself, your family and others.”
Symptoms of Covid-19 include a fever, a new, continuous cough and loss or change to a person’s sense of taste and smell. People with symptoms should self-isolate and book a test by visiting www.nhs.uk/coronavirus or calling 119.