DUDLEY'S health leaders have issued a stark warning that local restrictions could remain in place post-lockdown and in the run-up to Christmas unless coronavirus cases in the borough start to fall.

The borough's director of public health, the chairman of Dudley CCG and the chief executive of Dudley's hospital trust have united to issue a plea to residents to follow the rules to help bring down Covid-19 case numbers in the borough as lockdown enters its third week.

For months Dudley had one of the lowest rates in the West Midlands, which helped keep the borough in tier one, but this now stands 533.3 per 100,000 making it the highest in the Black Country...and there have been 1,715 cases confirmed in the last week alone, up from 1,419 the previous week.

And figures published on Dudley's Covid-19 dashboard show 333 cases were confirmed in one day alone on November 9. At the height of the pandemic, during the first national lockdown, the largest number of cases confirmed in one day was 48 (April 18).

The figures, published today (Monday November 16), show there have also now been 337 deaths linked to coronavirus in the Dudley borough and 1,518 in the Black Country.

An increase in testing at sites in the borough is being cited as one of the reasons for the rise in positive cases, but health bosses have today issued an urgent plea to people to do their bit to help bring the numbers down.

Bal Kaur, Dudley's director of public health, said: "During this lockdown there’s a window of opportunity. If we all work together we can bring down the infection rate. We recognise this is another huge sacrifice for so many people in our borough, who have already done so much to help us protect our communities. But we must do all we can to protect ourselves and our loved ones.

"If the rates don’t start to fall, there’s the possibility we’ll be in a position none of us want to be in where local restrictions could still be in place after the national lockdown and in the run-up to Christmas.

"I would urge all residents across the borough to play their part - stay at home and follow the government advice."

Dr Ruth Edwards, GP and chairman of Dudley CCG, said: "We understand this is a difficult time, however as cases continue to rise it’s very important that everyone adheres to the new restrictions.

"We are committed to working with public health colleagues and local partners who are doing everything they can to prevent outbreaks and stop the virus from spreading.

"We continue to be open for our patients and it is vitally important that people continue to use NHS services."

Diane Wake, chief executive of the Dudley Group NHS Foundation Trust, added: "We know just how hard everyone is finding the current restrictions and the impact that is having on the communities of Dudley.

"We also see first hand the effect Covid-19 is having on hospital and community services and we need everyone to play their part in reducing the number of infections in Dudley.

"Our community was amazing through the first wave and we need everyone to once again follow the guidance and restrictions in place – most importantly wash hands often, wear a face covering and keep space between people."

To book a coronavirus test visit dudley.gov.uk/council-community/emergencies/coronavirus/coronavirus-testing/ or call 119. All tests must be pre-booked.