REDDITCH now has the 17th highest coronavirus rate in England, according to the latest figures. 

Last week, health bosses urged employers in Redditch to ensure their staff follow social distancing guidelines following a rise in positive cases.

The rest of Worcestershire is beginning to see a stabilisation of its number of positive cases.

The virus rate in Redditch was 656.8 per 100,000 in the week leading up to January 21 - the latest data available. There were 560 positive cases recorded.

A high percentage of the cases in the last two weeks, around 80 per cent, are amongst working age people, many of whom are not able to work from home.

These key workers are in sectors such as manufacturing, child-care, supermarkets and healthcare.

The Director of Public Health for Worcestershire, Dr. Kathryn Cobain said; “Our key workers are vital to us all, so it’s important they are protected from Covid-19. We are seeing a high number of cases amongst our workforce who cannot work from home.

"So I am asking all employers to help encourage workers to keep to the social distancing rules, in and out of work. We want our key workers to be safe, so please keep to the rules.

"We are also seeing neighbours passing the virus on, and I’d remind all our residents that if you are helping support a neighbour, please make sure you keep your distance. Don’t spend time in another house and remember to wear face coverings and step back if you are dropping essentials on a neighbours doorstep."

Councillor Matt Dormer, leader of Redditch Borough Council, said: “As a business owner myself I know our employers are working very hard to protect staff, and I urge all workers in our key industries and services to really take care of themselves. Follow the rules, keep your distance even in break times and on the way into work. Be vigilant and let’s get the cases in Redditch down. “

Meanwhile, Worcestershire's first mass vaccination centre opened in the Artrix in Bromsgrove on Monday.

At full capacity, the centre will be able to deliver 20 vaccinations every five minutes, and will see up to 2,500 carried out each day.