Call for COVID vigilance after rise in West Midlands cases among young people
Young people across the West Midlands are being urged to stay vigilant in the COVID-19 pandemic, despite a slight drop in the number of new cases across the region.
In the seven days up to 31 August, the number of cases for the seven metropolitan authorities stood at 13.7 per 100,000 population - down from 13.8 for the previous week.
However, the rate of new diagnoses remains above the national rate and, as the leaders of Birmingham, Coventry, Sandwell, Solihull, Dudley, Walsall and Wolverhampton councils met to discuss the regional picture, they highlighted an increase in cases among young people, with more than one in five cases across the region over the last fortnight coming in the 20-29 age group.
Stressing the need for continued vigilance to reduce the threat of further COVID-19 lockdowns, Birmingham City Council leader Cllr Ian Ward said: "As we're seeing across the country, there's been an increase in coronavirus cases among 20-30 year-olds in the West Midlands and they now account for just over 20% of all the new cases. We have also seen an increase in older teenagers.
"It's important to stress that young people are not immune to this awful virus and sadly we've seen in other countries that rising cases among young people can be the thing that brings the virus into the homes of older and more vulnerable adults. We've seen that peaks in young people are often followed several weeks later by rises in hospitalisation and deaths, so it is essential we contain spread in all ages.
"We've all missed out on so much this year and I understand that everyone is desperate for a return to normality, but it's vitally important that we all remain vigilant to help reduce the spread of the virus - not just to keep ourselves safe, but to protect our family, friends and others throughout the region.
"That means wearing a face covering over your nose and mouth in enclosed spaces, maintaining social distancing from people you do not live with and are not in your support bubble – indoors and outdoors. Continue to wash your hands regularly and if you are feeling unwell, get a free test now.”
In addition to the appeal to young people, the council leaders also stressed the continued importance of wearing face masks in supermarkets, on public transport and other settings where face coverings are now mandatory.
Cllr Ward added: "We hear a lot about the 'new norm' and face coverings are an absolutely vital part of the new norm if we're going to keep people safe. Unless you have a legitimate reason not to, you must wear a face covering to protect others from the spread of infection.
"And you shouldn't need to be asked or reminded by shop staff, bus drivers or anyone else. This is about each and every one of us playing our part to protect the people of the West Midlands."