A FORMER Mayor of Ludlow who is in the group that has been identified as being at heightened risk from coronavirus has said that he will not be self-isolating despite advice to do so from the Government.

Jim Smithers, who is a member of Ludlow Town Council, wants people to be sensible and keep their distance from others but says that he thinks complete self-isolation is unrealistic for many people.

Mr Smithers, aged 71, says that he is avoiding social situations but goes out to do his shopping and to medical appointments.

“I go out to do a bit of shopping most days and do a big shop every fortnight,” said Mr Smithers.

“My shopping is normally done in the evening when there are fewer people about and it is much less crowded. As far as I can I keep my distance from people.

“In my view it is a case of being sensible, but life has to carry on.

“The other day I had to go to the doctor’s, to give a blood sample so I called ahead to see if it was still necessary and was told that it was, so I went along. The surgery was marked so that people could not sit next to each other.”

Mr Smithers, who lives in sheltered accommodation in Ludlow Town centre, says that he is less vulnerable than many people, help is just the pull of a cord away. But he recognises that most people are less fortunate.

“The people at greatest risk and most need of help are those people who are living on their own and isolated,” he added.

Mr Smithers added to that not everyone has family or friends that can keep an eye on them.

He says that he is fortunate in that he has a son who lives in Derbyshire, but they are in regular contact.

Mr Smithers says that one of the challenges has been for people who are vulnerable to get what they need when they go shopping.

“When I went to Tesco many of the shelves were empty and there were important items that were simply not available like toilet rolls,” he added.

But he hopes that the panic buying may settle down.

“My message to people is not to panic because panic does no good and can actually make things worse,” added Mr Smithers.

He also believes that people and especially those who are elderly or vulnerable for other reasons are understandably worried.

But he says that the majority of people will be okay even if they get the virus.

“We should take the advice seriously and make sure we follow it,” he added.