New Variant of Coronavirus Spreads Rapidly as Many People in Sandwell Still Have to Go Out to Work

New Variant of Coronavirus Spreads Rapidly as Many People in Sandwell Still Have to Go Out to Work

Sandwell Council has issued an urgent warning to employers of the need to protect their staff against the new variant of coronavirus.

Sandwell’s Director of Public Health Lisa McNally urged people to take action now to prevent more deaths and hospitalisations due to Covid-19. Her concern is particularly focused on those that still have to go to work during lockdown.

“The number of people who still have to go to work during this lockdown is very high in Sandwell,” she said.

“For example, the proportion of our local population working in processing plants or operating machines in factories is around twice as high as the national average. It’s also significantly higher than the West Midlands average.

“In addition we have lots of people working in schools, care settings and essential retail jobs.

“Given evidence that the new variant of the virus is easier to catch and more deadly than previous versions, it’s crucial that employers take all possible steps to protect their workforce.

“Staff should be supported to maintain a safe distance from each other and the public. They should also be given the right protective equipment to wear and be able to wash their hands regularly.

“Most importantly, employers need to ensure that people with symptoms, or who otherwise should be isolating, do not come into the workplace. That can rapidly turn into a very large outbreak with fatal consequences.”

Sandwell Council’s Deputy Leader Councillor Maria Crompton added: “A large section of our population in Sandwell don’t have the option of working from home.

“They work in industries and services that keep the rest of the country going.

“I’m asking all employers to take their duty of care to staff seriously during this extremely dangerous time.

“Employees should not be afraid of speaking up if they feel Covid-19 guidance is not being followed in their workplace. Everyone has a right to this protection.”

Advice for operating a COVID safe workplace is here: www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19

Workers can also get a rapid Covid-19 test at West Bromwich town hall. The rapid testing programme is available for anyone who is unable to work from home and who does not have any Covid-19 symptoms. As many as one in three people who have coronavirus have no symptoms and may be spreading it without realising. Go to www.sandwell.gov.uk/testsandwell to book.

Any business that has two or more positive cases among their staff must report this to the council’s Public Health team. The Public Health team can also advise employers who need information or support. To contact the Public Health team email: PHCovid19_Enquiries@sandwell.gov.uk

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