People are being urged to avoid mixing with other households this Christmas – to protect themselves and their loved ones.

With Covid-19 infection rates increasing again in Wolverhampton and other parts of the country, the Leader of the City of Wolverhampton Council is calling on residents to make the 'incredibly tough decision' not to meet up with others over the festive period.

Latest figures show around 700 people in Wolverhampton tested positive for Covid-19 in the 7 days to 12 December – though the true number of new cases will likely be considerably higher.

Council Leader Councillor Ian Brookfield said: "People in Wolverhampton have done a great job in the fight against coronavirus in recent months.

“We've all made many, many sacrifices and we managed to flatten the curve during the second wave, we protected our most vulnerable and, although extremely busy, we didn't see the massive levels of activity in our hospital that we saw elsewhere during that time.

"We can now see the light at the end of the tunnel thanks to the Covid-19 vaccine, but we are not there yet and hundreds of people in Wolverhampton are still catching Covid-19 each week.

“So, I'm really sorry to say that we now need to double down and make what will probably seem like the toughest sacrifice of them all.

“For the sake of yourselves and your loved ones, please don't mix with others this Christmas unless it’s absolutely necessary.

“I know that the Government has said you can form extended bubbles with other households between the 23 and 27 December, but it’s becoming increasingly evident that this will be an incredibly risky thing to do.

"This virus spreads easily from person to person, and that means the opportunity for people to mix more freely over the festive period really is a recipe for disaster.

“So, we’ll all have to think very carefully and make tough choices. I'll be spending it at home with my household and keeping in touch with others over the phone and online – and if you possibly can, I'd urge you to do the same.”

John Denley, Director of Public Health, said: “Since the end of lockdown, infection rates have started to go up again – and with that comes a higher probability of the virus finding its way into vulnerable people's homes.

"I've also taken the difficult decision not to mix with others this Christmas because I want to keep my family safe. I urge you to do the same – protect your family now so that you can see them next year."

He added: "If you simply must see others this Christmas, you need to make sure you do everything you can to stop Covid-19 getting into your family bubble. You need to think about self isolating from today and reducing your contact with others. You need to continue to follow the Hands, Face, Space guidance and, if you have symptoms of Covid-19, you must get a test.

"If you don't have symptoms, I'd urge you to get a rapid Covid-19 test at the Civic Centre; if the result is negative it will give you some additional reassurance that you probably don't have the virus."

The latest information and guidance around coronavirus is available at GOV.UK and on the council’s own coronavirus pages. Further details of the Tier 3 Very High Alert restrictions currently in place, and the answers to frequently asked questions, are available at COVID Alert

Symptoms of Covid-19 include a fever, a new, continuous cough and loss or change to a person’s sense of taste and smell. To book a test, visit GOV.UK or call 119. People can get tested within 8 days of developing symptoms.