OLDHAM'S chief medic has made plea for only genuine casualties to visit the A&E department at the town's hospital after number of coronavirus cases in the borough passed 100.

Dr John Patterson was speaking as health and council chiefs gave the latest media briefing on the local response to the Covid 19 pandemic.

He also appealed for smokers to quit, as they are 40 per cent more likely to get infected with the disease and two-and-a-half times more likely to end up in an intensive care unit fighting for their lives.

Dr Patterson also asked for householders not to embark on major home improvement projects and a spike in visits to A&E departments across Greater Manchester with DIY-related injuries.

The chief clinical officer for Oldham clinical commissioning group said the message was also getting through to the public to access information about coronavirus from trusted media organisations and that "myths" surrounding the global outbreak were being slowly dispelled.

"It's very clear that people are starting to get into a 'battle rhythm' of listening to the BBC, looking at the Public Health England guidelines, going more towards trusted media outlets," he said.

"And we work really hard to get front line staff to have the same consistent message based on the facts, not on the drama, because as people encounter our colleagues across the services, we want them to hear the same messages and that's our main focus at the moment."

And he urged people to think about maximising their chances of beating Covid 19.

He went on: "It's very important we don't increase footfall at A&E because we're closing down many of the activities there.

"Increasingly we're asking people not to go to A&E unless they have a genuine accident or emergency.

"The staff there are ready for our population who need it. This is the time to give up smoking and definitely not the time to do ambitious DIY projects.

"We have had a rise across GM of people presenting with these. Yes, please do the painting that you've been nagged to do for the last two years, but please no absolute home makeovers."