An urgent warning has been issued to residents in Sandwell following an increase in coronavirus cases in Smethwick.
Sandwell Council say infections have reached a ‘very high level’ and are urging people to take action as 34 new cases have been confirmed in the last seven days.
Multiple cases within households and extended family gatherings are one of the main ways the virus is spreading in the town. There have also been outbreaks associated with businesses, including pubs.
Public health and council bosses are urging residents to take the situation seriously.
Deputy Leader of Sandwell Council Councillor Maria Crompton said: “Cases in Smethwick are continuing to rise and we have more cases in the Smethwick area than any of Sandwell’s other towns.
“COVID-19 is a potentially fatal illness. We need people to take things seriously and prevent the spread of the virus.
“We are working intensively in Smethwick with community leaders, faith leaders and businesses to get the message across.
“I’d urge people not to arrange get-togethers, to not visit one another inside their homes and to make sure they wear masks in shops and in on public transport.”
“We have a testing centre in the centre of Smethwick where anyone who is concerned about symptoms or feeling unwell can get tested.
“People need to take notice now and help us to stop the rise in cases in Smethwick.”
Sandwell’s Director of Public Health Lisa McNally said: “We are seeing a large number of household clusters in Smethwick – those are households with four, five or even six cases – often within multigenerational households.
“We are advising people on how to try to avoid passing on the infection within their household.
“We have advice out in a range of languages on how to try to avoid having one person in a house infecting everyone – such as having separate bedrooms and avoiding sharing towels. People need to protect others in their own households by getting tested if they have symptoms and to avoid close contact if they test positive.
“We have also had a number of outbreaks in Smethwick businesses which have spread into the community.
“We are working closely with businesses, including shops and pubs, to remind them how important sticking to the guidance is.”
The council can offer free, tailored risk assessments which can help a business improve its infection control.
Social distancing, face coverings and not having anyone in the workplace with symptoms are all crucial.
Business owners who need advice can get in touch via the website at www.healthysandwell.co.uk/COVID