TWO people in Worcestershire have tested positive for coronavirus.
Dr Sue Ibbotson Centre Director Public Health England (PHE) West Midlands, confirmed the news and said PHE was in the process of contacting people who had close contact with two of the latest confirmed COVID-19 cases.
“The two cases are residents of Worcestershire and became infected whilst in Italy.”
Anyone who has had close contacts with the patients will be given health advice about symptoms and emergency contact details to use if they become unwell in the 14 days.
“This tried and tested method will ensure we are able to minimise any risk to them and the wider public.”
It was thought the first case in the county was on Wednesday when Worcester’s JobCentre closed on Wednesday with the DWP confirming a staff member had tested positive for COVID-19.
A spokesperson said the organisation was working closely with Public Health England and was contacting customers whose appointments were affected to rearrange.
But hours later the Director for Public Health in Worcestershire Dr Kathryn Cobain categorically denied there were any cases in the county.
Online speculation suggested the employee may work at the Worcester centre but not live in the county.
Steps are being taken across Bromsgrove district in relation to the virus.
The town’s walking sports centre has moved its football and hockey sessions outside onto the club’s astro pitch to minimise the risks of spreading the virus and all handshakes, fist pumps and elbow touches have been banned.
“Instead hockey players will touch sticks and footballers will touch boots,” he added.
Artrix says it is continuing as normal at the moment but added plans were in place if needed.
A spokesperson for the arts centre said: “Obviously if there is a ban on public gatherings from Government level we will adhere to that.
“We will respond to new advice as and when it is issued.”
And with widespread reports of panic-buying nationwide a shop assistant took to the Spotted Bromsgrove Facebook page to plead with people not to take out their frustrations on store staff when items, such as hand-sanitiser, hand wash, toilet roll or paracetamol ran out.
“If our stores have sold out of all these products, it’s down to the customers panic-buying.
“We all try our hardest to get deliveries out as quickly as possible and having customers breathing down our necks and then giving us verbal abuse isn’t what we come to work for.
“Please be a bit more patient, calm and understanding,” added the post.
Following the confirmed cases Dr Cobain said: “I’d like to reassure people that the risk to the general public remains low and Worcestershire County Council is working with health colleagues to do everything we can to stop the virus spreading and ensure the people of Worcestershire are protected.
“If you have not been contacted by Public Health England as a close contact of the confirmed case, you do not need to take any action at this time.”
She reiterated that good hygiene was the best prevention and there were some simple steps people could take to protect themselves and their family.
These included washing their hands regularly and thoroughly and if they cough, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue.
“If you have recently been to one of the affected areas and are feeling unwell, you should phone the NHS 111 helpline for further advice straight away.
“Please don’t go to your doctor or a hospital.”
Click here for more advice.
The UK national picture
According to the latest figures, as of today (Friday, March 13), there are 798 positive cases confirmed.
In total, 32,771 people have been tested for the virus with 31,973 proving negative.
Ten people have so far died because of COVID-19.
Sajid Javid’s Westminster Diary
‘Government has coronavirus plan’
IT WOULD be remiss of me, if I did not use my column to address the evolving challenge of Covid-19 or Coronavirus.
In the last few weeks – as the number of cases in the UK has risen, the Government has set out a comprehensive action plan on how to combat the virus.
The plan is based on the advice and evidence presented by the UK’s top scientists and medical officers – it has been agreed to by all four parts of the UK and it sets out the detailed stages of future action should the present situation change.
Our NHS is prepared to combat the virus – with access to extra funding available to hospitals should they require it.
Emergency legislation will be brought forward to allow the payment of statutory sick pay from the very first day a person may need it.
Furthermore, local areas will be bolstered by the creation of a task force, so as to ensure every area has a robust plan in place.
We are well-prepared to combat the virus, but everyone has a role to play – and that starts with washing your hands regularly for 20 seconds and catching coughs and sneezes. Simple advice, but effective.
I would encourage all readers to check up regularly on the latest Government advice – particularly when travelling abroad.
In the meantime, as per that advice, you should continue your day-to day activities as you normally would.