As Wolverhampton marks one year since the Covid-19 lockdown, police and health leaders are calling on residents to remain vigilant, both to avoid further heartache and to help the city safely back onto its feet.

Today is a national day of reflection to remember those lost to Covid-19, which includes a minute’s silence at noon and a ‘shine a light’ event at 8pm, with people encouraged to stand on doorsteps with phones, candles and torches to signify a "beacon of remembrance".

Wolverhampton has registered 1,079 Covid-19 deaths in the last 12 months and, while infection rates have fallen as a result of the most recent lockdown, they have recently stabilised and the relaxation of restrictions in the coming weeks is likely to lead to another increase in cases in the near future.

John Denley, Wolverhampton's Director of Public Health, said: "As we mark the anniversary of the first Covid-19 lockdown, it is right that we take time to reflect on the last 12 months and remember everyone who has fallen victim to this deadly virus.

"It has been an incredibly challenging year which has taken an unbearable toll on so many families and on behalf of the council I extend my deepest condolences to all those who have lost friends and loved ones.

“I also want to thank the people of Wolverhampton for the huge sacrifices they have made over the last year to help our city through the coronavirus pandemic.

"As we tentatively begin to move out of lockdown, the coming few weeks and months will be the most critical yet. We cannot afford to let down our guard, even for a second, if we are to stop this virus from needlessly claiming more lives." 

Superintendent Simon Inglis of Wolverhampton Police said: "The last year has been like no other. We have faced some significant challenges and will do so again moving forward.

“The support of the public has been absolutely amazing during that time and I know that the vast majority have recognised and understood the difficult decisions we have had to make. However, we still have some tough times ahead and we would ask that you continue to support us as we help the city come slowly out of lockdown.

“The roadmap is clear and outlines the pace at which restrictions will be relaxed and it’s vital that we all stick to that route and at the pace required. Your support with ensuring we stick to the rules will ensure we can focus our attention on supporting the recovery of the city and preventing crime, protecting the public and helping those in need."

Mr Denley added: "Please continue to play your part because we are not out of the woods yet – cases have fallen over the last couple of months but numbers in Wolverhampton have recently stabilised and, in other parts of the country, infection rates are going back up.

“So please stay safe – make sure you get a PCR test if you develop symptoms of Covid-19 and follow Hands, Face, Space; keep your distance from others, wear a face covering and wash your hands or use hand sanitiser regularly.

"Please get your Covid-19 vaccine as soon as you are eligible for it and get yourself a regular rapid Covid-19 test, because you could be the one in three people with Covid-19 who doesn't have symptoms, and you could still pass it on to others. If we all do this, we will be doing everything we can to protect ourselves and our loved ones.

Latest figures show there were 61.6 new cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 people in Wolverhampton over the seven days to 20 March. That means 162 people in the city tested positive for the virus in that seven day period – though the true number of new cases will likely be higher.

Anyone with symptoms of Covid-19 is reminded they should immediately self isolate and book a PCR test by visiting GOV.UK or calling 119. More information on rapid testing for people without symptoms of Covid-19 is available at Coronavirus Testing.  

The latest information and guidance around coronavirus is available at GOV.UK and on the council’s own coronavirus pages. Information about the vaccine can be found at Covid-19 Vaccine. Further details of the restrictions currently in place, and the answers to frequently asked questions, are available at COVID Alert.