Case rates remain high in the West Midlands and hospitals are under huge pressure, with the latest official figures showing that almost 40,000 people are currently in hospital with coronavirus across the UK.
The vaccine roll-out is one cause for optimism, but echoing the fears of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), the leaders of Wolverhampton, Birmingham, Coventry, Sandwell, Solihull, Dudley and Walsall councils have urged people to stick to the rules around social distancing, hygiene and testing.
Councillor Ian Brookfield, the Leader of the City of Wolverhampton Council, said: "Over 2,200 people in Wolverhampton tested positive for Covid-19 last week. The infection rate is still really high, people are losing loved ones and our hospitals are under enormous pressure. If we relax now, it could have disastrous consequences.
"So, as a more people are being called for vaccination, it's crucial that we all continue to do everything we can to keep the people we love safe.
"Don't be tempted to bend the rules. Please continue to follow the regulations on social distancing, hand washing and the wearing of face coverings – and stay home unless absolutely necessary.
"Testing continues to be very important and I would urge all businesses – where staff are unable to work from home – to enable regular rapid testing of employees who are symptom free, either by working with us to establish testing facilities or allowing their staff to attend testing appointments during the working day.
"And remember, if you develop symptoms of Covid-19, you must self-isolate and book a PCR test.
"The vaccination roll-out has given everyone hope that we can finally bring this pandemic to an end, but we're not out of the woods yet – far from it. So, we simply cannot afford to drop our guard now.”
People with symptoms of Covid-19, including a fever, a new continuous cough or a change to their sense of taste or smell, should immediately self-isolate and book a PCR test by visiting GOV.UK or calling 119.
Anyone without symptoms can get a free test at one of Wolverhampton’s 4 rapid test centres – the Civic Centre (open Monday to Friday, 8am to 7pm and Saturday and Sunday, 10am to 6pm); the Jamia Masjid Bilal on Newhampton Road West (10am to 6.30pm daily); St Joseph’s Church, Willenhall Road (Monday to Friday, 2pm to 6pm) and Pendeford Library (Monday to Friday, 10am to 4pm, and Saturday and Sunday, 10am to 6pm). Please note, the Civic Centre is closed this Sunday (24 January) for essential maintenance.
In addition, rapid testing for people working in education and early years settings is available at Pendeford Library from 7am to 10am and 4pm to 6pm, Monday to Friday; staff are asked to bring their work ID or a pay slip to confirm eligibility.
Rapid testing is not available to people who have been told to self-isolate by NHS Test and Trace, or to anyone with symptoms of Covid-19.
For full details of Covid-19 testing facilities in Wolverhampton, please visit Coronavirus Testing.
Latest figures show there were 861 cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 people in Wolverhampton over the 7 days to 17 January. That means 2,264 people in the city tested positive for the virus in that 7 day period – though the true number of new cases will likely be considerably higher.
The latest information and guidance around coronavirus is available at GOV.UK and on the council’s own coronavirus pages. Further details of the lockdown restrictions currently in place, and the answers to frequently asked questions, are available at Covid Alert.