Shropshire's Covid-19 prevalence rate remains steady – but the re-introduction of some social distancing regulations shows how "precarious" the situation is, a health boss has said.

Sam Tilley, the planning director for Shropshire CCG and Telford and Wrekin CCG, told governors there is “nothing to be alarmed about” locally but it is still vital to remain vigilant.

Chairman Julian Povey said public confidence in the “test and trace” system was undermined by mishaps like the forced closure of a coronavirus testing facility in Ironbridge. Crowds and heavy traffic at the centre forced it to close early on Tuesday, September 8.

On the same day the government announced that, from Monday, September 14, social gatherings in England will be limited to six people, down from the previous limit of 30, to help slow the spread of the virus. Local lockdowns have been imposed in some areas, including Bolton and Caerphilly.

Mrs Tilley told clinical commissioning groups’ combined governing body: “In Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin we find ourselves in a reasonably steady state, but we are beginning to see small increases in prevalance rates.

“This is nothing to be alarmed about at this stage. We are, however, tracking the position very carefully.

“It remains important to continue to reinforce the range of options for managing the spread of the virus: wearing a mask, washing hands, social distancing, and getting a test if you have symptoms.

“There are a range of testing options still available. We are aware that there are some issues, both nationally and locally, with some of those options, but we have been assured that these are being addressed and they are temporary.

“You will all be aware of the government announcement yesterday in terms of the return of some restrictions, and that demonstrates how precarious the situation remains.

“We continue to have a robust approach to local management of the pandemic within those national parameters.”

Fiona Smith, a governing body member representing GPs, said some practices still saw “a lot of scared people” because of “alarming” national news. She asked how the CCGs could reassure people locally.

Mrs Tilley said: “It’s a very tricky balance. While we don’t want people to be alarmed, we need to continue to push the message that the public needs to be vigilant.”

She said the CCGs, along with the health trusts and local authorities in the county, put out information several times a day to keep the public informed.

Dr Povey said: “I think the communications don’t appear to reach everyone. We need to ensure that it reaches a wider spread, and it’s a very dynamic situation, as we saw by the problems facing the test and trace system last night, particularly in Telford.”

He said incidents like that have “knock-on consquences, both in terms of the confidence of the public and the impact on workload for our health services”.

The Ironbridge testing facility, at Jiggers Bank, reopened yesterday morning (Wednesday, September 9).