MORE coronavirus testing pods and an assessment area could be installed across south Warwickshire as health chiefs prepare for the crisis to worsen.
Four cases have been confirmed in Warwickshire and three in Coventry.
A patient who was being treated in Nuneaton died from the virus, along with another in Dudley, taking the number of lives claimed to the illness in the UK to eight. Both were elderly and had underlying health conditions.
Nationally cases have continued to rise with 456 having contacted coronavirus in the UK by yesterday.
Symptoms include fever and a cough which can lead to severe pneumonia and breathing difficulties in older people and those with weakened immune systems.
The UK’s chief medical officers have raised the risk level from low to moderate.
South Warwickshire Foundation Trust (SWFT) – which runs Warwick, Leamington, Stratford and Shipston hospitals – has already made a number of changes but is preparing for the situation to escalate.
Several coronavirus pods were installed at Warwick Hospital last month. An advisory group of experts was also formed across the trust and signs put up at Ellen Badger in Shipston, Stratford and Leamington sites directing anyone showing symptoms to call the NHS on 111. Checks have also been carried out to ensure the intensive care ward complies with national requirements.
But work is currently taking place to look at providing more pods along with creating an assessment area.
The trust is also looking at its response in case of high numbers of patients who may need isolation.
A trust spokesman said in a hospital report: “The trust has endeavoured to meet all of the national requirements including the establishing of assessment pods and working across the system to scope out the community testing requirement and coordination centres.”
Shade Agboola, director of Public Health for Warwickshire County Council, was quick to reassure residents in the county following the four confirmed cases at the weekend.
She said: “I’d like to reassure people that the risk to the general public remains low and the local authority is working with health colleagues to do everything we can to stop the virus spreading and ensure the people of Warwickshire are protected.
“Good hygiene is the best prevention and there are some simple steps you can take to protect you and your family by washing your hands regularly and thoroughly and if you cough, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue.
“If you have recently been to one of the affected areas and are feeling unwell, you should use the NHS 111 online coronavirus service or call NHS 111 for further advice straight away – please don’t go to your doctor or a hospital. There’s lots of advice on how people can protect themselves online at www.nhs.uk/coronavirus.”
Across the county some traders say they are preparing for the impact on their businesses by following government advice and planning ahead.
Wellesbourne and Walton Parish Council has postponed its annual meeting on advice from Warwickshire Association of Local Councils to help minimise any potential to spread the virus.