Swindon has appeared on government’s coronavirus watch list.

A new Public Health England report published this afternoon lists the town as an area of concern, behind cities like Leicester and Burnley. Swindon is the first area in the south west to feature on the watch list.

While the news list likely to be concerning to many, the man in charge of the borough’s public health team has sought to reassure people that Swindon is not heading for a local lockdown of the kind seen in Greater Manchester.

Swindon Borough Council’s director of public health Steve Maddern told reporters on Friday morning there was a lag in the government’s figures and the rising case rate was a consequence of the mini-outbreak at the Iceland distribution centre in Penzance Drive. Cases at the depot, run by XPO Logistics, has slowed. Almost 80 staff members have tested positive.

“Are we heading towards local restrictions? The answer is no. Are we heading towards local lockdown? The answer is no,” he said.

“We know quite a few of the large businesses across Swindon have done a lot to make sure that they are protecting the health of their workforce but there’s also an element that the workforce as individuals need to be protecting themselves outside of work as well.

“In some ways, in my view you could end up being safer at work than you would be outside. It’s about reinforcing those messages that in work there will be the policies and processes and the work environment may be adapted to allow people to be socially distanced, maintain handwashing, etc.

“But you have a personal responsibility as a resident of Swindon to be continuing that in your personal lives.”

With temperatures in the town expected to hit 30C on Saturday, making it almost as hot as party paradise Ibiza, many may be tempted to flock to beer gardens and beauty spots to enjoy the sunshine.

Mr Maddern warned: “I’m not discouraging people from enjoying the sunshine this weekend. People will naturally want to get out and about as do I, but it is about reinforcing those messages.

“When you’re out and about wear masks where you should be wearing masks, so if you’re in shops or on public transport.

“Keep your distance, I think we all end up flocking to the same beautiful destinations across the weekend so just be very mindful of your surroundings, don’t put yourself into crowded situations.

“If you’re feeling unwell don’t go out. I know it’s beautiful and sunny out there but if you are experiencing any covid symptoms, be that fever, new persistent cough, loss of sense of smell or taste do not go out and enjoy that sunshine. Isolate yourself and book a test.”