People in Wolverhampton are being urged to take action and not mix with others this Christmas – to protect themselves and their loved ones.

The Leader of the City of Wolverhampton Council has made the plea after the discovery of a new and highly contagious variant of Covid-19 which has seen London, the South East and other parts of England made subject to stricter Tier 4 measures.

Council Leader Councillor Ian Brookfield said: "This new strain of Covid-19 is a really worrying development. It has taken hold in other parts of the country and it will probably travel to the Midlands very quickly – if it hasn’t already.

"We’ve seen parts of the country move to Tier 4 restrictions and must face the likelihood that it's only a matter of time before similar measures are introduced here. 

"This could happen at any time and we saw on Saturday how little notice areas can get of a change to their tier. 

“That's why I’m urging people to take the decision at the earliest opportunity not to mix with other households on Christmas Day – for the sake of themselves and their loved ones.

“This is already the rule in Tier 4 areas, and while it is the last thing any of us want, it is the only way we can guarantee that we can keep ourselves and our loved ones safe from this terrible virus.

"This is not the Christmas any of us deserve, especially after all the sacrifices we have already had to make throughout the pandemic. But it is time for us all to exercise extreme caution – because the more quickly we act now, the more lives we will save."

Meanwhile, people who have recently returned to Wolverhampton from areas which are now in Tier 4 are being urged to 'act like they have Covid-19' and self-isolate for at least 10 days. This means remaining inside the house where they’re staying for the whole 10 days. No visitors should be allowed into the house, even on Christmas Day. Other people who live in the house do not need to self-isolate unless they develop symptoms, in which case they should book a test.  

John Denley, Director of Public Health, added: "At the moment it seems unlikely that people will become more ill from this variant of Covid-19. However, it is significantly more contagious which means more people will catch it and more people will end up in hospital with it.

“That's why immediate action is required – so I urge you all to redouble your efforts to follow the Hands, Face, Space guidance, remember to get a test if you develop symptoms and please avoid household mixing this Christmas.

“At the same time, there's no evidence that the Covid-19 vaccine which is now being rolled out will be any less effective against this strain of the virus – so   when you get your call to have your jab, make sure you get it.”

Latest data shows there were 283.29 cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 people in Wolverhampton over the 7 days to 19 December. That means 745 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 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.