KNUTSFORD and Wilmslow residents are being urged to abide by the latest lockdown rules and stay at home amid concerns that NHS hospitals are facing ‘extreme pressure’.

Under the rules announced last week, people should stay at home and only leave the house for essential reasons – such as getting a Covid test, food shopping, work, education, exercise or helping someone vulnerable.

The Covid vaccination programme is now under way across Cheshire, but following surging case numbers across the county in recent weeks, hospitals are being put under strain – with more than 60 per cent of beds at the Countess of Chester now occupied by patients with the virus.

Ian Ashworth, chairman of the Cheshire and Merseyside Directors of Public Health Board, said: “The next few weeks are going to be extremely difficult and it will be some time until we see the impact of the lockdown take effect.

“People need to stay at home as much as possible. Only shop when necessary. Exercise away from other people. If you cannot work from home and have a symptom free test centre in your area, get tested regularly so you can self-isolate before symptoms show.

“We are working hard with health and government partners to speed up and unblock barriers to the rollout of the vaccine for the most vulnerable groups – but this will not happen overnight.

“We now have a number of licensed vaccines which will mean more vaccines becoming available locally. In the meantime, we need people to double their efforts to keep themselves and their loved ones safe.”

Having already spoken out about the strain her hospital is under from the virus, Dr Susan Gilby, chief executive at the Countess trust, says the situation has now intensified.

She told councillors last week that 50 per cent of beds were occupied by patients with Covid, but that figure has since increased.

Writing on Twitter on Sunday night, she said: “A week on from my plea from Chester – now 61 per cent of our beds occupied by patents who have Covid-19 disease.

“They need our care. We are prepared to care for more, but at some considerable human cost to staff, families and those who wait [for] non-Covid care. Please stay at home.”

A full list of what is permitted under the current lockdown is available at

Anyone who develops Covid symptoms – a fever, new continuous cough or loss of taste or smell – can book a test at or by calling 119 and should self-isolate.

For mental health support during this difficult time visit