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COVID Testing teams to target key local areas to help reduce infection rates

Article date - 23 July 2021

Specialist Covid-19 surge testing teams are to visit key areas across St Helens Borough in the next three weeks and ask residents to test at home and help try to reduce high infection rates in the borough.
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Positive Covid -19 cases in St Helens have continued to rise sharply in recent weeks with 990 new cases confirmed across the borough in the week leading up to July 16th.  

Infection rates have also increased substantially and continue to rise, with case rates across the borough now at a rate of 534 per 100,000 (weekly data to the 16th of July). Many of the new cases are amongst children (0-17) and younger people aged between 18-29. Infection rates among 30-44 year olds in the borough are also high and continuing to rise.

St Helens borough now has the third highest rate of new infections in the Liverpool City Region  and it remains well above the national infection rate in England of 464 per 100,000 for the same period (up to July 16th).

In addition there are currently nearly 40 people in St Helens and Knowsley Hospital with Covid-19 with more cases likely to increase pressure on the NHS.

In order to combat the growing case and infection rates, a 50 strong Surge Rapid Response Team, working with St Helens Borough Council, will be visiting homes in the Parr area of St Helens this coming Saturday and Sunday (July 24th and 25th), handing free lateral flow home testing kits to residents and also providing advice on testing,  vaccinations and additional PCR testing.

PCR tests are necessary for anyone who tests positive using a lateral flow testing kit and allows for detailed analysis of test samples.

The team will then be visiting Earlestown and Clock Face in Sutton as well as other parts of the borough in the following two weeks.

The spread of the Delta variant across the borough and the North West in recent weeks is proving around 60 per cent more transmissible than the previous Alpha Kent variant. It is now responsible for more than 90 per cent of new Covid -19 cases in the UK.

Councillor Anthony Burns, St Helens Borough Council Cabinet Member for Wellbeing, Culture and Heritage said: “New cases in St Helens are continuing to rise at an alarming rate so it is vital that we take action now and encourage residents to test more and get further support  if they do test positive.

“With transmission rates being particularly high amongst children and younger people it is particularly important that we try and curb transmission of the virus in the home, especially during the school summer break when families will most likely be mixing more frequently.

Ruth du Plessis, Director of Public Health at St Helens Borough Council, said: “Even if you show no symptoms at all you can have the virus and then spread it onto others so it is so important that you do continue to test regularly.  We want to try and keep the freedoms we have whilst protecting ourselves and others and twice weekly testing is a keyway to do that.”

Residents should also look to book their first or second vaccination as soon as possible.

Having the first vaccination can reduce the risk of severe illness from Covid by around 33 per cent, with the second vaccination reducing the risk by between 60 per cent and 88 per cent. It can also potentially make it harder for you to pass the virus onto others.

Ruth added: “With the increased capacity of the new variant to be transferred so easily from person to person, getting yourself vaccinated is crucial in protecting yourself and others.

“Anyone over the age of 18 can book their first vaccination appointment so do please take that step and get that protection.”

“Everyone can now get their second vaccination after eight weeks rather than 12 weeks so do please come forward and get that extra jab.”

You can now just drop into your local vaccination centre and get your second vaccination free. In most cases there is no need to book an appointment

Drop-in vaccination clinics now take place seven days a week for first and second doses at The Totally Wicked Stadium (Saints) 8am-12.30pm and 1.30pm-7pm - no appointment needed. 

Allied Pharmacy in Bold and Holloway Pharmacy in Haydock are also offering vaccination clinics if you cannot make it to the town centre. 

 The Vaccination Bus will also be out and about across the borough. You can find out more about where to find it and drop-in sessions at the pharmacies here: https://www.sthelensccg.nhs.uk/covid-19-information/covid-19-vaccine-drop-in-clinics/ or follow St Helens Borough Council and St Helens Clinical Commissions Group’s Twitter and Facebook accounts @sthelenscouncil and @sthelensccg 

If you need to isolate and need advice or support for food or medication contact St Helens Together on 01744 676767