The number of confirmed cases of novel coronavirus in Staffordshire remains at four – the county council has confirmed this afternoon (Wednesday March 11).
Staffordshire County Council said the number of cases of Covid-19 had not risen in the county, as the Department of Health confirmed the UK total had risen to 456 – an increase of 83 and the largest day-to-day rise to date.
Eight deaths have now been confirmed across the UK – with the latest two being reported this evening by hospital trusts in Warwickshire and Dudley. All the deaths so far have involved patients with underlying health conditions.
There are now 42 cases reported across the Midlands – while the World Health Organisation confirmed it was categorising the outbreak as a pandemic.
Dr Richard Harling, the county council’s Director of Health and Care, said: “The numbers have remained unchanged for the past couple of days, but we are expecting these to rise and are planning for this.
“The advice today remains it is very much business as usual and people should carry on the every-day life of going to school, going to work and travelling on public transport.
“The most effective way to reduce the risk is by following good basic hygiene and washing your hands thoroughly for at least 20 seconds.
“Although we are still in the phase of trying to contain the spread, as a county council we are making preparations for what this may mean if the country needs to move to the next phase.
“Just as we are making plans, I would encourage businesses and residents to also think now about how this my affect their day-to-day lives should, and I stress should, nest steps become necessary.”
No cases are yet confirmed in Stoke-on-Trent, but Cheshire saw it’s first confirmed case today when it was announced a man from Warrington had tested positive.
Diane Wake, chief executive of the Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust, said in a statement: “The Trust can confirm that a patient in their 70s being treated for underlying health conditions has died. The patient had tested positive for Covid-19.
“The family has been informed and our condolences and our thoughts are with them at this difficult time.
“We will not be commenting further and ask that everybody respects the family’s privacy.”
In other local, national and international developments:
- The Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, announced emergency funding in his Budget to help the country manage the outbreak
- A plane carrying 135 British passengers from the Grand Princess cruise liner, which is quarantined in California following an outbreak of COVID-19, has landed at Birmingham Airport
- More than 200,000 people – including thousands across Staffordshire and Cheshire – have called for schools to be closed until the virus is contained
- The Green Party have called for a national government of all parties to be formed.
- The World Health Organisation have confirmed they are treating the Covid-19 outbreak as a pandemic
- Macclesfield Beer Festival has been postponed due to concerns about coronavirus
- Manchester City vs Arsenal has been postponed as a precautionary measure.
- Internationally there are reported to be 124,775 cases across 117 countries and territories. A total of 4,585 people who tested positive for COVID-19 have died and 67,050 have recovered.
Alan White, Staffordshire County Council’s, Cabinet Member for Health, Care and Wellbeing, welcomed the additional support and said : “While we are doing everything we can to contain the spread of the virus, there are clearly a few challenging weeks ahead.
“I am pleased the Chancellor has recognised the significant impact the outbreak could have on the economy, businesses, the vulnerable and financial stability of families by announcing a raft of measures in the Budget today.”
Director-General of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, confirmed on Wednesday that the organisation has characterised the novel coronavirus as a pandemic.
He said: “Pandemic is not a word to use lightly or carelessly. It is a word that, if misused, can cause unreasonable fear, or unjustified acceptance that the fight is over, leading to unnecessary suffering and death.
“Describing the situation as a pandemic does not change WHO’s assessment of the threat posed by this coronavirus. It doesn’t change what WHO is doing, and it doesn’t change what countries should do.”
He added: “We have never before seen a pandemic sparked by a coronavirus. And we have never before seen a pandemic that can be controlled at the same time. WHO has been in full response mode since we were notified of the first cases.
“We have called every day for countries to take urgent and aggressive action. We have rung the alarm bell loud and clear.”
Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said although the WHO is still proposing a containment strategy for Covid-19, countries now need to “double-down” following an increase in cases.
“We repeat again, we are not suggesting to shift from containment to mitigation. We are not, we underline that,” he said.
“We’re still proposing containment strategy and other strategies, a comprehensive and blended strategy.
“But considering the geographic spread and the number of cases that has increased in the past two weeks, we should double-down. And we should be more aggressive.”