West Midlands councils today stressed that testing will be key to preventing further Covid-19 lockdowns across the region and urged citizens and businesses to play their part.

As large parts of northern England woke to new local lockdown rules this morning, council leaders and public health bosses have made it clear that widespread testing is now more important than ever to reduce the prospect of similar action in the West Midlands.

The City of Wolverhampton Council, together with Birmingham, Coventry, Sandwell, Solihull, Dudley and Walsall councils, is urging people who have Covid-19 symptoms or who have come into contact with anyone who has tested positive to get tested.

The 7 local authorities also reiterated the importance of businesses contacting Public Health England as a case is identified – either confirmed or suspected – in a staff or customer.

Councillor Ian Brookfield, Leader of the City of Wolverhampton Council, said: “As we've seen with Leicester and now the north of England, this pandemic is far from over and there's no room for complacency. Testing is essential if we're going to limit the spread of the virus across the West Midlands and save lives and every single one of us can play a part. 

"It is essential that anyone with symptoms, however mild, rings 119 or goes to GOV.UK to book a test. We are working with the Department of Health to expand the number of testing sites across the region and increase opportunities for walk through testing as well. By testing you get the reassurance of knowing if you have Covid-19 or not and you get the right advice to keep you and your family safe.

"We are also seeing across the region that workplaces are becoming sources of outbreaks and spread, but if Public Health England is contacted quickly when managers find out about the first suspected or confirmed case then the right advice can be given and we can control things quickly. 

"In most cases this also means the business doesn’t need to close and things can be controlled. Staying silent means the virus spreads, putting staff and customers at risk, and where businesses haven’t stepped up and reached out for help quickly there have been outbreaks that have grown and impacted on the wider community."

People can help to fight the virus in the following ways:

  • if you develop symptoms, you must continue to follow the rules to self-isolate for 10 a minimum of 10 days and book a test to find out if you have coronavirus
  • if you test positive for coronavirus, you must share information promptly about your recent contacts through the NHS Test and Trace service to alert other people who may need to self-isolate
  • if you have had close recent contact with someone who has coronavirus, you must self-isolate if NHS Test and Trace advises you to do so
  • tests are now available to all adults and most children with a fever, a new continuous cough or a loss of smell or taste
  • tests are free, results are issued within 48 hours and NHS contact tracing is a confidential service
  • you can apply for a swab test for yourself, or for anyone in your household, if you or they have symptoms
  • you can travel to a drive-through testing site, visit a mobile testing unit or get a home testing kit delivered

Businesses should contact Public Health England as soon as a case is identified – either confirmed or suspected – in a staff or customer. This should be reported to Public Health England as soon as possible by ringing 0344 225 3560 and pressing 0 then option 2.

Reporting a suspected or confirmed case as a business as soon as possible means that Public Health can support your firm to contain and avoid spread. 

Councillor Brookfield added: "This is in everyone's interests and it's not just about diagnosing individual cases, it's about understanding how widely the virus has spread. We can identify hotspots and act to contain and control the virus.

"Individuals and businesses can all play a vital role and it's essential that we all follow Public Health England’s advice on reporting cases promptly."

The latest information and guidance around coronavirus is available at GOV.UK and on the council’s own coronavirus pages at Coronavirus advice and information. There’s lots of advice on how people can protect themselves and their families from coronavirus from the NHS at Coronavirus (COVID-19).  

The council’s Stay Safe, Be Kind campaign offers clear and simple advice about how people can help themselves, and how they can support others who may be particularly vulnerable at this time. For more information, please visit Stay Safe, Be Kind.