Covid-19 infection rates in Wolverhampton are starting to fall but remain among the highest in England.
And with the number of deaths recorded with Covid-19 in the city last week eclipsing the numbers seen last spring, health bosses urging residents not to drop their guard in the fight against the deadly virus.
Latest figures show there were 681.8 cases of Covid-19 per 100,000 people in Wolverhampton over the seven days to 23 January. That means 1,793 people in the city tested positive for the virus in that seven day period – though the true number of new cases will likely be considerably higher.
This is a marked reduction compared to the 'peak' in the seven days to 8 January where there were 1,068.9 cases per 100,000 people – meaning 2,811 people tested positive.
But while that offers a glimmer of hope, there are currently more than 300 people at New Cross Hospital with Covid-19, including around 30 in intensive care, and tragically the City of Wolverhampton Council recorded 97 deaths with Covid-19 last week – higher than at any point in the first wave last spring.
Councillor Ian Brookfield, the Leader of the City of Wolverhampton Council, said: "The fact that infection rates are starting to fall is very welcome news – and that’s thanks to the incredible efforts people are making to combat this deadly virus.
“But we must not lose sight of the fact that the number of people catching Covid-19 in Wolverhampton each and every day is still staggeringly high.
"That’s putting massive pressure on our health services and that's only going to continue for a long time, because we know today's infections can become hospital admissions in a couple of weeks’ time.
"The vaccination roll-out has given everyone hope that we can finally bring this pandemic to an end, but we're not out of the woods yet – in fact, we are very far from it. So, please, do not let your guard down, for the sake of yourselves and your loved ones."
David Loughton CBE, Chief Executive of the Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust, said: "Nobody went to medical school, went into nurse training, or came into the health service to watch people die. That wasn’t what they were trained for.
"I’ve got intensive care consultants who have trouble sleeping, because they wake up at four o’clock in the morning and they can remember the faces of the people with coronavirus who they tell ‘I’m going to put you to sleep now, and you may never wake up’.
"This is real; please help us stop the spread of the virus and, I really cannot overemphasise this, when you are offered the vaccine, please take the vaccine."
Only Knowsley, Sandwell and Slough currently have higher Covid-19 infection rates than Wolverhampton, at 115.5, 109.2 and 99.9 cases per 100,000 residents respectively in the week to 23 January.
John Denley, Wolverhampton's Director of Public Health, added: "We are now one of the epicentres of this pandemic and, as a more people are being called for vaccination, it's crucial that we all continue to do everything we can to keep the people we love safe.
"Please don't be tempted to bend the rules. Continue to practice social distancing, good hand washing and wear face coverings where required – and most importantly, stay home unless absolutely necessary."
The latest information and guidance around coronavirus is available at www.gov.uk/coronavirus and on the council’s own coronavirus pages at www.wolverhampton.gov.uk/coronavirus. Further details of the lockdown restrictions currently in place, and the answers to frequently asked questions, are available at www.wolverhampton.gov.uk/covidalert.