Covid-19 case numbers in Dudley are still lower than most neighbouring areas and the number of deaths remain below the average for this time of year.

However, new local lockdowns have had to be introduced in Birmingham, Sandwell and Solihull and they are already affecting people here.

Like a lot of people locally, I have family who live in Sandwell who we rely on for help with childcare and getting our children to and from school on days when my wife and I are both working.

People’s lives are being disrupted all over again by these widespread restrictions.

We are extremely close to joining Sandwell and Birmingham in local lockdown and so it is more important than ever that we all continue to take sensible precautions to stop the spread of coronavirus.

That’s why the Government has introduced a new ‘rule of six’ limit on the number of people gathering inside our homes, gardens and outdoor spaces.

Most positive tests are traced back to people becoming infected in their home or in other people’s homes.

Following these new rules will help to reduce the risk of further lockdowns being necessary.

Although the number of younger people testing positive has increased since July, we have so far avoided an increase in hospital admissions and deaths because infections of older and vulnerable groups remain low. But, if we don’t take measures to stop Covid spreading, then there will inevitably be increased transmission to older people, followed by increased deaths.

Many frustrated constituents have contacted my office, annoyed that although they are complying with the rules, others are not. These rules need to be legally enforceable and I am pleased that the police now have powers to act against those who deliberately break those rules, such as the organisers of illegal raves, with massive fines of up to £10,000.

We have a huge problem at the moment processing tests for all of the people who are coming forward for testing.

Although we are conducting more tests than any other country in Europe – for example, Germany and France carry out about a million tests each per week whereas Britain is processing 1.6million – the number of people wanting tests is increasing rapidly, and many are unable to get an appointment.

A new lab is being built in the Midlands to process an extra 50,000 tests a day, but the immediate focus needs to be on making sure that those whose symptoms could be coronavirus – rather than a cold or hay fever – are able to get a test, while those who almost certainly don’t have coronavirus are directed to pharmacies or GPs.

The Prime Minster has outlined ambitious plans to increase testing capacity up to millions of tests per day if emerging rapid saliva-based tests can be offered on a mass scale.

British tech firms are right at the front of this technology, with companies such as iAbra offering a swab-based test which they say can deliver results within 20 seconds.

I am glad to see the Government throwing everything behind this this sort of technology so that our lives can return to normal as soon as possible.

But I am also pleased to see authorities prepared to step on the brakes when necessary.