People in Wolverhampton are being told they must urgently adopt social distancing measures to help prevent the spread of coronavirus among the local population.

If you are well, are under 70 or do not have an underlying health condition, you should limit your social contact as much as possible, including using less public transport, staying 2 metres away from other people, working at home if you can and not arranging play dates for your children. The Government has already ordered various social settings, including pubs, restaurants, cafes, theatres and bars, to shut to prevent close contact with people.

If you are aged 70 and over, are younger but have an underlying health condition, or you are pregnant, you need to be particularly stringent in following the social distancing measures and significantly limit face to face interaction with friends and family as much as possible.

Further guidance was released over the weekend around measures to ‘shield’ the estimated 1.5 million people in the UK, including children, who are at very high risk of severe illness from coronavirus. They are in the process of being written to and will be strongly advised to stay at home at all times and avoid any face to face contact for a period of at least 12 weeks from the day they receive their letter. 

John Denley, the City of Wolverhampton Council's Director of Public Health, said: "I cannot stress enough how important it is that every one of us does what we are being asked to in order to help stem the spread of coronavirus. 

“We know that there is widespread community transmission taking place and that, sadly, when people are coming into hospital, they are very poorly.

"Yet there has been plenty of coverage in the media over the weekend of people blatantly ignoring the social distancing measures laid down by the Government, with people out and about in groups large and small, and queueing next to one another in places like supermarkets. 

"The rising infection and death rates nationally and internationally show just how dangerous coronavirus can be and so it is vital that all of us follow the latest government guidance around social distancing, and that we keep up to date with these measures as they evolve over the coming days and weeks.

"Washing your hands with soap and water more often, for at least 20 seconds, is still the best way that you can protect yourself and others. Cover your mouth and nose with disposable tissues when you cough or sneeze. If you don’t have a tissue, sneeze into your elbow, not into your hand. Put used tissues in the bin immediately and wash your hands afterwards."

There’s lots of advice on how people can protect themselves and their families online at NHS - Coronavirus (COVID-19). For further information and guidance, please also visit Coronavirus advice and information.   

The council has also launched a new Stay Safe, Be Kind social campaign offering 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.    

Mr Denley added: "Clearly, the next few weeks are going to be incredibly difficult for everyone as we limit social interaction to protect our families and other people – but it is vitally important that we all follow this guidance so that we can all do our bit to help prevent and slow the spread of coronavirus.

"The Prime Minister made it very clear yesterday that, if we don't all start doing this, the restrictions may have to be made even tighter."