In his latest Reporter column, Denton MP Andrew Gwynne urges people to remain calm and follow expert advice about the coronavirus outbreak.
The first cases of Coronavirus have been identified in Tameside this week.
Whilst this will be concerning to some, it is to be reiterated that the overall risk to the general public remains low. I want residents in Tameside to feel reassured that measures have been put in place to prevent the spread of the virus where possible.
Coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, is particularly problematic in areas of China, Iran and Italy, and many countries are now reporting cases. Here in the UK, the number of reported cases is rising every day.
Fortunately, the vast majority of people who catch the virus will only ever suffer from a mild-to-moderate illness with similar symptoms to the flu.
But it is older people and those with pre-existing health conditions to whom the risks associated with contracting Coronavirus are greater.
Understandably concern is widespread. There have been reports of people buying essential hygiene products such as hand sanitiser, soap and toilet paper off the shelves, in some cases leading to price increases.
Panic is understandable in the face of the unknown. But please be assured that stockpiling is unnecessary and maybe even counterproductive. After all, it’s great if you can keep your hands clean, but what about the people who now can’t because you bought the last bar of soap?
The British Retail Consortium have advised against stockpiling, especially food. They are working hard to ensure that supply chains are maintained during the Coronavirus outbreak, meaning that people have no need to worry about item shortages if stockpiling ceases.
We could all do with taking a leaf out of Jurgen Klopp’s book right now. The Liverpool manager said that when it comes to the virus, we need to listen to the experts. Not football managers, not famous people and certainly not those with no knowledge.
Public Health England have said that the best way you can keep yourself, your loved ones and everyone else around you safe is to frequently wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. And of course, maintenance of good general hygiene is encouraged.
Whilst it’s unclear how things are going to develop, or the impact it could have on our freedoms, our economy or on our public services, I encourage calm. Many of us are going to be absolutely fine even under the Government’s worst-case scenario. I would, however, urge that we take care of our community’s oldest and most vulnerable; something that’s not a bad habit to get into anyway.
ADVICE SURGERIES POSTPONED
Since writing this column, Mr Gwynne has confirmed he has taken the decision to postpone all immediate Advice Bureaux to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 locally.
Surgery appointments by phone or video link can be arranged instead.
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