A stark warning has been issued to the people of Liverpool to take action now over the rising rates of COVID-19 infections in order to avoid a winter crisis.
The Liverpool Health Protection Board, which oversees the city’s response to the pandemic has set out guidance for people living in, working in or visiting the city.
The advice comes after the UK Government said it would not be implementing ‘Plan B’ restrictions despite being urged to do so by NHS leaders and the British Medical Association.
On Thursday, 21 October, there were 52,009 new infections reported - the highest leap since July - government data shows.
COVID-19 cases have increased in four of the six boroughs of the Liverpool City Region too, according to the latest official figures.
The Liverpool Health Protection Board has moved to issue advice on how to keep safe including guidance on wearing facemasks and working from home.
The Government’s more stringent ‘Plan B’ restrictions would include making face coverings compulsory again, advising people to work from home and mandatory COVID-19 passports.
What’s been said
Liverpool’s Director of Public Health Matthew Ashton said: “With COVID-19 infections steadily increasing, and health and social care services already under exceptional pressure, we are facing a very difficult winter.
“We are also expecting that there may be high levels of flu around before Christmas. It is time now that we take additional steps locally to prevent a winter crisis, so that we can keep our critical services going.
“COVID-19 is a nasty virus, and it hasn’t gone away – please look out for your friends and family by adopting these simple measures. They are vital to reduce the spread, reduce hospital admissions and ultimately save lives.”
Professor Ashton has urged people to get COVID-19 vaccinations and booster jabs when eligible and also revealed pregnant women in the city are seriously ill in hospital with coronavirus.
What should the Liverpool public be doing?
- Get vaccinated and booster COVID-19 jabs. If you are pregnant, get vaccinated.
- You should be invited for your booster six months after the second dose.
- Work from home if you can.
- Use masks in crowded indoor spaces and on public transport, and open windows and doors to increase ventilation, and wash your hands.
- After half-term, parents should wear face coverings at the school gates.
- Secondary school pupils should wear face coverings in communal areas outside the classroom.
- Do a rapid flow test (LFT) twice a week. These tests are especially important in identifying cases that don’t display symptoms. Around 1 in3 people who have coronavirus show no symptoms but can still infect other people who can then become seriously ill.
- Isolate immediately if you have symptoms of COVID-19, and book a PCR test.
- Be kind to each other, and look out for friends, family members, and neighbours. COVID has had a big impact on people’s mental health and wellbeing, so it is essential Liverpool continues to do what it does best – looking out for people who need help and support.
Rising COVID-19 cases
Health Secretary Sajid Javid warned on Wednesday that cases in England could soon rise to 100,000 a day.
The British Medical Association (BMA), which represents over 150,000 doctors, has said the government is being ‘wilfully negligent’ in not taking action now to protect the public from COVID-19.
Chair of Royal College of Nursing Council, Carol Popplestone, said: “Nursing staff, exhausted and working under the strain of tens of thousands of vacancies, will be angered to hear ministers say the pressures in the NHS are sustainable. All those working in hospitals, GP surgeries and the community know the reality.
“The pressure on services is already unsafe and unsustainable and is heading in one clear direction. Denying the problem does not help patients nor staff.”
There is growing pressure on the Government to move to the stricter Plan B - which would put England on a similar path to Scotland and Wales, where face coverings are still compulsory on public transport and in shops.
COVID-19 rates in Liverpool
Four areas of the Liverpool City Region have seen a rise in COVID-19 cases with two recording notable surges, the latest data from the Government shows.
According to the figures from Public Health England, St Helens was the worst hit constituency as coronavirus cases rose by 26.9% in the seven days leading up to 17 October.
The region had 994 cases in total, 211 more than the previous week.
The percentage change week on week in Knowsley rose by 26.6%, with 134 more cases than the previous seven days - 638 in total.
Infection rates in, Halton (11.6%) and Sefton (4.0%) also rose during the same period, while Wirral (-0.4%) and Liverpool (-2.2%) recorded decreases.