THE message from the Prime Minister on Monday evening caused shockwaves throughout the country.

His words “I urge you at this moment of national emergency to stay at home, protect our NHS and save lives,” were some we never thought we would hear.

The coronavirus is impacting millions of people globally, as well as right here in our rural Tyne Valley.

The national picture tells us there has been 8,000 confirmed cases in the UK, with a worrying total of 422 deaths.

The total of 13 in Northumberland seems tiny in comparison, but we have seen elsewhere how quickly those numbers can multiply - at this time of going to print last week, there had been no cases confirmed in the county. More worrying is that we also learned this week that a man died of the virus in Northumberland.

Even closer to home, a patient in Hexham has been hospitalised through the illness, while a GP at Ponteland has issued a stark warning to people about the seriousness of the virus as she recovers from the illness.

It is good to see most people are heeding such important advice from health officials and the Government, but it is concerning that some seem to be disregarding safety advice.

As a local newspaper which has been in operation for more than 150 years, the Hexham Courant remains committed to supporting the community in any way we can during these difficult times.

While adhering to government guidelines by working remotely and away from our office, we are working around the clock to keep our readers across the district up to date with the latest developments, both locally and nationally.

We play a vital role in society getting out important messages to our readers, and we have you all in our thoughts while we continue to fulfil our duty of informing and educating.