Health chiefs have pleaded with Swindonians to do their bit to prevent the spread of Covid-19 – telling people “now is not the time to be a hero”.

It comes amid fears that the town could be plunged into a local lockdown if infection rates rise further.

Last week, Swindon became the first area in the south west to be placed on Public Health England’s watchlist as an area of concern, after an outbreak of the virus at XPO Logistics’ Iceland distribution centre. Further cases have this week been confirmed at Stagecoach and the B&Q distribution centre.

The borough council has today launched a campaign aimed at encouraging people to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Director of public health Steve Maddern said of the “Swindon: It’s up to all of us” campaign: “The recent rise in cases and the government highlighting us as an ‘area of concern’ is a wake-up call to us all. We cannot even begin to think we are coming to the end of this public health crisis.

“We are not at the point of implementing local restrictions, but we need to do everything we can to limit the spread of the disease and to keep our case rate down so we do not end up at that point. We need to break the chain of transmission and we need the public and the local media to really get behind this important campaign.

“The message of this campaign is simple: it’s up to each and every one of us in Swindon to play our part. Wash your hands, keep your distance and wear a face covering when you need to.

“If you think you have symptoms, no matter how mild, book a test immediately and if you test positive make sure you self-isolate for at least 10 days. If you fall ill, everyone who lives at your property must also self-isolate. Staying at home, means not going out for any reason, including to work, or to the shops.”

As the Adver went to press last night the latest number of cases were yet to be published. But as of 9am on Monday, 1,029 people had tested positive for the virus in Swindon.

The council will set up a mobile testing site on the County Ground car park this morning in an effort to test more people – especially those unable to drive to the regional test centre at the Wroughton Park and Ride site.Around 2,000 households will be written to this week in the SN1 and SN2 postcode areas. Health officials have linked the neighbourhoods, which have higher deprivation rates and a broader mix of ethnicities than other areas, to many of the new covid cases.

Backing the council campaign, Dr Amanda Webb of Swindon’s NHS clinical commissioning group said: “As a GP, I know that many people in the local area like to take responsibility for their own health, and only seek help when their symptoms are no longer manageable at home.

“However, now is not the time to be a hero. It’s vitally important that people do not dismiss mild symptoms such as a fever, a cough or a change in taste or smell as a common cold, hayfever or a reaction to the warm weather.”