A number of cases of a new variant of Covid-19 have been identified in the Liverpool City Region, including here in St Helens Borough, Warrington and Lancashire.
The new mutation, referred to as E484K, is being investigated by Public Health England.
There is currently no indication that this version of the virus is more transmissible or results in more serious illness but work is ongoing to identify if the variant is more resistant to antibodies.
This mutation of the virus is different to the South African variant, which has been identified in Southport and other places in the UK this week.
In a joint statement with leaders and mayors from across the Liverpool City Region Councillor David Baines, Leader of St Helens Borough Council, said: “Any change in the virus is a serious issue for us all and I’m very concerned to hear of the mutation that has been identified in the region.
“Our Public Health Officers are working closely with Public Health England to understand and respond appropriately to this latest challenge but the best action we can all take is to follow the rules, no excuses.
“You must not go out and mix with others unless it is absolutely essential, and if you do it is vital that you make space between yourself and others, wear a face covering and wash your hands regularly. If you are a key worker or carer – or if requested to do so locally – get a Covid test.
“Please stay home, protect the NHS, and save lives.”
Sue Forster, Director of Public Health at St Helens Borough Council, added: “It is common for viruses to mutate, I don’t want people to get concerned but we need to all play our part by always ensuring we keep to the rules and get tested when we have symptoms no matter how mild. This way regardless of the mutation of the virus we will bring the infection rates down in our community.
“While investigations continue it is really important that the whole community work together to tackle the spread of Covid-19 in the community. We’ve heard of cases where people are still mixing with others without good reason and we’d remind everyone that the guidance is very clear not to leave home unless absolutely necessary. If you do need to leave home please make sure you wear a mask, wash your hands regularly or use hand sanitisers when out and about, and keep your distance from others.
“If you are worried about support for things like shopping or prescriptions if you test positive for Covid-19, you can get help from St Helens Together. You may also be eligible for £500 isolation payment if you cannot work after a positive test.”
To find out more about testing visit www.sthelens.gov.uk/letsgettested and to get support from St Helens Together call 01744 676767 or find out how to claim for £500 isolation support visit www.sthelens.gov.uk/coronavirus