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Shropshire following social distancing with 85 per cent drop in shop visits

By David Banner | Coronavirus | Published:

The people of Shropshire were today thanked for playing their part in the fight against coronavirus.

The country has been on lockdown since March 24

New figures show a dramatic fall-off in numbers venturing out on to streets across the county and Mid Wales.

And today a hospitals boss has revealed how the community had rallied around to provide emotional and practical help to medics fighting on the front line, many of whom have finally been including in testing for Covid-19.

Figures from Google, which uses location data to chart trends in people's movement, show footfall at retail and recreation establishments fell by 85 per cent in Shropshire in the six weeks to the end of March compared to two months earlier. In Powys it was down even further, by 88 per cent.

Google's figures also show a 14 per cent rise in activity in places of residence in Shropshire, rising to 23 per cent in Powys. That compares to a 50 per cent reduction in places of work in both areas, as more people work from home. Visits to public transport hubs were also down by 70 per cent in Shropshire and 63 per cent in Powys, but this was below the UK average of 75 per cent.

Shropshire and Mid Wales also a drop in footfall of around 50 per cent at groceries and ​pharmacies, and 56 per cent less in parks and green spaces.

The medical director of Shrewsbury & Telford Hospital NHS Trust today thanked people for adhering to lockdown rules in Shropshire and spoke of the overwhelming support he and his staff had received.

Dr Arne Rose, who helps run Telford's Princess Royal Hospital and Royal Shrewsbury Hospital, described the reaction of the public as "incredible".

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Writing in today's Shropshire Star he said: "People are, for the most-part, heeding the advice to say at home and only travel for essentials like food and medical treatment."

He said testing had now started for key staff at both hospitals, allowing those who are confirmed as negative to return to work, adding: "This week we began testing colleagues who are self-isolating because they are either symptomatic or a member of their household has the symptoms of coronavirus. We are prioritising frontline staff in the first instance."

And he revealed the huge boost the support of people in the county gave to staff, saying: "Members of the public are standing with us in the battle against this virus and our teams at SaTH are standing up and coming up with some great ways to work in the most difficult circumstances any of us have ever faced."

He said institutions across the region had provided practical help, including University Centre Shrewsbury, Harper Adams University and Wolverhampton University. Shropshire Chamber of Commerce and Telford BESST Network have helped source items they need.

And walkie-talkies have been donated by Shrewsbury Town to enable staff working in isolation to speak to those in other areas of he hospital.

Dr Rose added: "We have also had so many donations of food and drink to keep our teams going that it is impossible to say thank you to everyone who has supported us in this way."

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