AN Oldham GP has issued a plea to residents as Covid-19 cases in the borough reach their highest levels since the start of the pandemic.

Doctor Zahid Chauhan, who is also Oldham Council’s cabinet member for health and social care, is urging residents to test regularly and get vaccinated as the borough’s health services teeter on the edge of breaking point.

In a statement released today, Dr Chauhan said: “Our system is under immense strain at the moment due to Covid-19, as we see our highest case numbers since the start of the pandemic.

“Staff are already mentally and physically drained from an extremely challenging couple of years and patients are also again now feeling the brutal impact of these pressures too, with many non-urgent operations and appointments on hold until the situation improves.

“Local GP surgeries are incredibly busy, and on top of this, we have our carers working additional shifts to cover for colleagues who are self-isolating, and this can be just as challenging for the people they care for, due to the change in their routines.

“That’s why I’m urging everyone to play their part in easing this pressure because we all have a role to play, particularly those who haven’t yet come forward for their vaccinations or booster.

“Boosters are now 88 per cent effective at preventing you from ending up in hospital with Covid-19, according to the latest data, and to go against this just adds to the problems our local NHS is facing.”

Vaccine clinics continue to operate across multiple sites in Oldham throughout the week on a walk-in basis and residents are being encouraged to come for their first, second and booster doses.

Residents are also being urged to get tested regularly, especially before periods of “high risk”, wash their hands, wear a face covering in public places and do their best to keep a social distance.

Dr Chauhan added: “We all have to pull together and be patient during this difficult time.

“I know the disruption that’s been caused is far from ideal but if we do not act now, we are only making the situation worse for ourselves and others.

“Please take care, look after yourself and loved ones and play your part in protecting our health and social care system from the pressures it is currently facing.”

For the latest information on vaccination and test sites visit the Oldham Council website.