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COVID Testing teams to visit Earlestown and help tackle high borough infection rates

Article date - 29 July 2021

Specialist Covid-19 surge testing teams are to visit residents in Earlestown this weekend (July 31st-August 1st) to try and help tackle high infection rates in the borough.

Working with St Helens Borough Council, the teams will be delivering free lateral flow testing kits and encouraging residents to test themselves at home. The teams may also ask about vaccination and provide information.

Positive Covid-19 cases in St Helens borough have continued to rise sharply in recent weeks, Although infection rates in the borough fell slightly in the week leading up to July 23 they still remain high at 435 cases per 100,000 people. There are currently 34 people in St Helens and Knowsley Hospital with Covid-19.

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 highest rate of new infections in the Liverpool City Region and it remains well above the national infection rate in England.

This weekend in addition to delivering free testing kits in Earlestown, the surge testing teams will also return later in the day to update with residents, look at any issues they have had with using the kits and provide additional PCR home testing kits to use if anyone has tested positive.

The 50 strong teams will also be visiting Clock Face during the weekend of August 7-8th to provide free testing kits and engage with residents.

Councillor Anthony Burns, St Helens Borough Council Cabinet Member for Wellbeing, Culture and Heritage said: “The work of the Surge Testing team in Parr last weekend was a great success and we are confident they will be able to make a similar impact with residents in Earlestown this weekend.

“Our priority is to try to bring down transmission rates in the borough and with the help of residents we believe we can achieve this. Their support already has been crucial and with the support from our teams hopefully more people will test and the risks to our local communities will reduce.”

Ruth du Plessis, Director of Public Health at St Helens Borough Council, said: “Testing twice weekly is so important if we are to help contain the spread of the virus and limit the number of new infections.

“With families mixing more now during the summer holidays the opportunities for the virus to pass from one person to another can be greater. Even if you show no symptoms at all you can have the virus and pass it on so do please continue to test regularly.”

Ruth adds: “This weekend our teams will also be returning later in the day to update with residents and we are particularly hoping this will encourage residents who have not tested at home before to give it a try. It’s simple to do and can make a big difference in helping to keep infection rates down and people out of hospital.”

Residents should also look to book their first or second Covid-19 vaccination as soon as possible.

Having the first vaccination can reduce the risk of severe illness from Covid-19 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.

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 Pharmacies in Bold and Hollowood 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 Commissioning 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.