As I’m sure you will have heard by now, the first case of Coronavirus was identified in Tameside at the weekend. 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 an infectious disease which is currently experiencing a global outbreak. It 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 items. 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 of the Coronavirus.

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 over the coming weeks and months, 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.

Here is the official advice from the NHS:

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