Joint statement from the 4 Directors of Public Health for the Black Country:

Deborah Harkins, Dudley Council
Lisa McNally, Sandwell Council
Stephen Gunther, Walsall Council
John Denley, City of Wolverhampton Council

Council health leads in the Black Country have moved to reassure members of the public that plans are in place in the event of a coronavirus outbreak in the region.

So far there have been no confirmed cases in the Black Country, however Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall and Wolverhampton councils are working closely with the NHS, Public Health England and other emergency partners to ensure they are fully prepared for a case of coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, being declared locally.

Speaking on behalf of the 4 Directors of Public Health, Wolverhampton's Director of Public Health John Denley, said: "We welcome the government’s action plan which was published today. We’d like to reassure people that we are working with our health colleagues at a regional and national level to ensure that people in the Black Country are protected.

"The government and local authorities have planned extensively over the years for an event like this. We regularly practice and prepare our response to disease outbreaks, following tried and tested procedures to improve the response for the protection of the public, patients and staff. 

“Contingency plans are already in place across the Black Country, in line with national guidance, with measures in place to test suspected cases of coronavirus and care for anyone who should test positive.  

“There is currently no vaccine for coronavirus and early detection measures will continue to be vital in helping to prevent the spread of the virus. 

“We urge all Black Country residents to keep an eye on the Government’s guidance which is regularly updated and covers a range of topics from travel advice, returning travellers and information on locations of risk.

"In the meantime, we can all do our bit to help prevent the spread of the virus. There are some simple steps you can take to protect you and your family. These include washing your hands regularly and thoroughly, including before preparing and eating food. Please cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or sleeve, not your hands, if you cough or sneeze, put used tissues in the bin immediately and please avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth without cleaning your hands first. 

"If you have recently been to one of the affected areas and are feeling unwell, you should visit or call NHS 111 for further advice straight away – please don’t go to your doctor or a hospital.”

There’s lots of advice about how people protect themselves online, including the latest Government advice which is updated on a daily basis, and a video guide to good handwashing.