St Helens Borough is now on the Government’s Covid-19 concern list after cases have climbed steeply in the last week.
The rate of positive cases across the borough is now at 58 per 100,000 people on figures from 1st-7th September with 105 positive tests in that time period, which puts the borough into Central Government’s concern list. This is in comparison to the previous seven days from 25th-31st August when the rate of positive cases was 7.8 per 100,000 with only 14 positive tests in that time period.
St Helens joins the rest of Merseyside, which is also on the same ‘watch list’, meaning Government will closely monitor the infection rate in St Helens and could impose interventions and enforce further restrictions should the positive test numbers continue to rise.
Sue Forster, Director of Public Health at St Helens Borough Council, said: “If our infection rate continues to grow as rapidly as it has done in the past week we will find ourselves very quickly facing greater restrictions on where we can go and who we can see. We are finding that a lot of the transmissions are through socialising with others from outside households so ahead of the weekend it is vital that we all make sure we take the necessary precautions to reduce our risk of spreading Covid-19.
“Our testing levels have remained steady and are not the reason why we have seen such a quick growth in confirmed cases, and although hospital admissions are low at the moment we know from other countries like France and Spain who saw quick rises in cases, that hospital admissions and deaths rose as a consequence of that so we have to act now to stop the chain of reaction.
“Please think seriously about what your plans are for this weekend, and beyond, and how you can make them Covid-safe. We have been advising, and will continue to advise that all St Helens Borough residents take action to reduce contacts and do not mix between a number of different social groups in a short space of time as this risks spreading the virus far wider. Please keep at least 2m from those outside of your household, so if you do plan to spend time with others remember to keep your distance. Washing your hands is one of the easiest ways to help us reduce the risk of spread because if you touch your face then touch a door handle that could easily infect others. Finally make sure to wear a face mask in enclosed spaces where social distancing isn’t possible.”
St Helens Borough Council is working alongside its partners in the community to raise awareness of the spike in cases across the borough, and particularly in the Newton-le-Wlliows area where the highest infection rates are currently.
Environmental Health and Licensing teams are working with businesses to help them put in place new guidance which has been issued by Government to help curb the rise in transmissions.
Sue Forster added: “We are at a critical moment in our outbreak and this is the time for action. We all have a role to play in halting the spread of this virus. We have seen how Bolton, in the space of two weeks, has gone from having restrictions due to be removed to the imposed closure of bars and restaurants and a ban on mixing with other households. We do not want St Helens Borough to follow this path because the consequences could be devastating not just on people’s health but also our economy as it takes its steps to recover from the initial national lockdown. We all have to pull together and act in the right way so that those actions are not needed here.”
The main symptoms to look out for are a fever, a new, continuous cough or loss of taste or smell. No matter how mild they may be, you must isolate for 10 days and get a test. Even if your results come back negative you should continue to isolate as the test is only a picture of your health at that time.
Testing at Haydock Park Racecourse is available to book online or if you do not have access to a car please book a home testing kit. Please do not visit your GP, St Helens Urgent Treatment Centre or A&E if you have symptoms that are manageable and cannot get a test elsewhere.
You can find out more about booking a test and home testing kits at www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-getting-tested or on 119 and although there is capacity issues we would encourage people if they are unsuccessful first time to leave it a few hours and try to rebook later in the day.
For more advice, particularly if you need support with food and medicine or if you need to isolate, visit: www.sthelens.gov.uk/coronavirus or call St Helens Contact Cares on 01744 676767.