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Details of planned, additional COVID variant testing for Southport’s Cambridge, Dukes & Norwood wards announced

Sign for the COVID-19 variant Mobile Testing Unit at the former Kew park-and-ride site.
Sign for the COVID-19 variant Mobile Testing Unit at the former Kew park-and-ride site.

Sefton Council has confirmed that from Wednesday 10th February an additional dedicated Mobile Testing Unit will open at Southport’s Theatre and Convention Centre as part of the programme to detect the South African variant of the COVID-19 virus.

Targeted testing to identify the variant is well underway in Southport’s Norwood ward where the first case was identified. Further testing will be starting in town centre areas of the Cambridge and Dukes wards, where the Council was notified of a second, apparently unrelated historic case.

Everyone aged 16 or over within the target areas are urged to get a test.

Door-to-door

Door-to-door delivery and collection of home testing kits will start being rolled out across the Cambridge and Dukes areas from Thursday 11th February.  In addition, a team will be visiting the four schools in the area affected before they break up for next week’s half-term holiday.

Opening hours for the Mobile Testing Unit at Theatre and Convention Centre on the town’s Promenade will initially be 8am to 6.30pm. The unit at the former Kew park-and-ride site in the Norwood ward is open 8am to 6.30pm. Both are open seven days a week and are specifically for people within the target areas who don’t have any coronavirus symptoms.

Teams visiting addresses within the target areas will deliver home testing and, where possible, will wait while people test themselves. Anyone calling with one of these tests will carry clear identification. They will not ask for any money or request anyone’s financial details and neither will they enter people’s homes.

Testing guidance

To help you take a swab, the NHS has made step-by step guidance videos:

Moved quickly

Andrea Watts, Sefton Council’s Executive Director for People, who has been coordinating the testing arrangements said: “Once again, since having been informed about the second, apparently unrelated case of the variant, we have moved quickly to put testing arrangements in place for the extended areas in Southport.

“I am pleased to confirm we will be getting underway tomorrow with the Mobile Testing Unit at the Theatre and Convention Centre or ‘Floral Hall’ as local people may know it and the door-to-door delivery of home testing kits to homes and businesses in the areas will start on Thursday.

“I would like to thank people living and working in the Norwood area for how enthusiastically they have reacted to the news about the South African variant and their willing participation in this important testing programme. I am confident that people in the two new wards identified will work with us just as positively.”

Reminder

The Council has been reminding people to protect themselves and others by sticking to the national lockdown regulations and staying home, both within the target areas for the South African variant and across the rest of the Borough.

People should only be going out for essential purposes such as shopping for essential supplies, going to work if we can’t do so from home, providing care and their daily exercise. Those in the variant testing areas could got for a test at a Mobile Unit as part of their daily walk.

While out, people should be keeping to 2-metres’ distancing, wearing a mask or face covering while out and washing their hands frequently.

Sefton Council is also encouraging anyone living or working in the Borough who is offered a COVID-19 vaccination to take up the opportunity and go along for their jab and benefit from the protection it will provide. And it is reminding people aged 70 and over that if they have not yet been vaccinated against Covid and want to be, they should contact the NHS to arrange a jab.

Expansion of COVID variant testing in part of Southport’s Cambridge & Dukes wards progressing

Photo showing dedicated Mobile Testing Unit at former Kew park-and-ride site
The dedicated Mobile Testing Unit at former Kew park-and-ride site

Preparations to expand ‘surge’ testing for the South African variant of the COVID-19 virus in Southport have continued over the weekend.

On Saturday, Sefton Council announced that the testing for the variant would also cover parts of the Cambridge and Dukes wards. Since then the Council has been making arrangements for further, dedicated Mobile Testing Units and the distribution of home testing kits across the affected area.

The Council is urging everyone aged 16 and over in the target areas to take the one-time test and if they test positive, to self-isolate to stop the spread of the virus.

Hastily

Margaret Jones, Sefton Council’s Director of Public Health said: “After being advised a second, historic and unrelated case the South African variant had been found, we have been hastily pulling together plans to introduce testing arrangements for people living and working in the affected areas of the Cambridge and Dukes wards.

“Delivery of home testing kits is starting in the next few days, initially in town centre areas, and a site for a Mobile Testing Unit for people who don’t have coronavirus symptoms, is being finalised.”

Over the weekend, efforts continued in the Norwood ward, where thousands of people have now taken a home test or visited the Mobile Testing Unit at the former Kew park-and-ride site.

Testing guidance

To help you take a swab, the NHS has made step-by step guidance videos:

Sefton Council has been reminding people in the target areas for the South African variant that they need to continue protecting themselves and others by sticking to the national lockdown regulations and staying home.

Essential purposes

Mrs Jones said: “People should only be going out for essential purposes such as shopping for essential supplies, going to work if we can’t do so from home, providing care and their daily exercise.

“Those in the variant testing areas wanting to get tested at a Mobile Testing Unit may be able to call in during their daily walk.”

“When they are out, people should keep to 2-metres’ distancing, wear a mask or face covering while out and wash their hands frequently.”

At the moment, there is no evidence to suggest that the South African variant is any more severe than others. However, questions have been raised about how effective the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine is against it.

Vaccines

Responding to these comments, Mrs Jones said: “The vaccines being rolled out in the UK have been shown to work well against dominant variants so I would urge anyone who lives or works in the Borough who is offered a COVID-19 vaccination to take up the opportunity and go along for their jab and benefit from the protection it will provide.”

 

COVID variant testing extended to two more Southport ward areas

Photos showing the Mobile test site in action
The Mobile Test Unit at the former Kew park-and-ride

Sefton Council has confirmed that the testing area to locate the South African COVID-19 variant is being widened beyond Southport’s Norwood ward.

As a result of a second case of the variant that has not been linked to the first’ being picked up through the regular PCR procedure, targeted testing is being extended to cover parts of the Cambridge and Dukes ward areas in Southport. The second case has been picked up through the random sequencing of previous positive tests.

Unconnected

Sefton Council Leader Cllr Ian Maher said: “This not a case of the COVID variant being identified through the dedicated ‘surge’ testing we have started this week. It appears to be an unconnected, historic case that has been picked up through somebody developing coronavirus symptoms and booking a PCR test as they should have done at one of the existing test sites.

“Nationally, a percentage of all PCR tests are randomly tested to identify variants of the virus and this is how the second local case was picked up. On being informed of that second case, we were advised to increase the targeted testing area.

“Nationally, a percentage of all PCR tests are randomly tested for variants as well as for the presence of the virus and this is how the second local case was picked up. On being informed of that second case, we were advised to increase the targeted testing area.

“So far I have been pleased to see how positive local residents and businesses in the Norwood area have reacted to the news about the South African variant by willingly participating in this important testing programme. I am confident people in the two new wards identified will work with us to help prevent its spread in the same way.”

Additional Mobile Testing Units will be set up in the new target areas, in which there is a population of around 9,000 residents and approximately 12,000 additional properties, including. And the delivery and collection of home testing kits will be rolled out across the new areas.

Local people will be informed about the testing and when it due to start.

Dedicated measures

Margaret Jones, Sefton Council’s Director of Public Health said: “Once the dedicated testing measures are in place, we will be encouraging everyone aged over 16 within it the areas affected to get a test.

“But, like last week we won’t be asking anyone in Sefton, within the target areas or outside them to do anything else any different.

“We all need to continue protecting ourselves and others by sticking to the national lockdown regulations and staying home except for essential purposes such as shopping for essential supplies, going to work if we can’t do so from home, providing care and going for a coronavirus test if we need one.

“And, maintaining at least 2-metres’ distancing, wearing a mask or face covering while out and about and washing our hands frequently are all essential when we do have to go out.”

Testing in the Norwood ward, which started on Wednesday will continue over the weekend.

Extended opening

From Saturday 6th February, the opening hours of the Mobile Test Units set up in Southport’s Norwood ward area extended to 8am to 6.30pm. Located at the former Kew park -and-ride site, the Units were rapidly set up, and opened on Wednesday, as part of national measures to identify and stamp out the South African variant of the COVID-19 virus.

In addition to the Mobile Test Units, a team of up to 50 will be delivering home testing kits to households and businesses in the affected area. Where possible, they will wait while people test themselves. then deliver the swabs to a collection area.

Team members include Council staff, Merseyside Fire and Police officers, and members of Sefton Voluntary Services. All of them will carry clear identification, they will not ask for any money or request anyone’s financial details. Neither will they enter people’s homes.

Testing guidance

To help you take a swab, the NHS has made step-by step guidance videos:

Self-isolate

Sefton Council is reminding people living and working across the Borough that whatever kind of coronavirus test they take, if they get a positive result for the COVID-19 virus, they need to self-isolate. The Council has published 10 useful tips for 10 days of isolation on its website at www.sefton.gov.uk/self-isolation.

Subjects covered include financial support available, planning food and shopping deliveries, medical contacts and advice, caring for others and looking after your physical and mental wellbeing. Arrangements for pet care, stopping the spread of the virus at home and pharmacy deliveries are also included.

More about the dedicated testing for the South African variant.

Volunteers thanked for their support with the fight against COVID-19

Over 250 volunteers from all walks of life are being thanked for coming forward to offer their different skills to support with the COVID-19 vaccination rollout in Sefton.

Sefton Council for Voluntary Service (CVS) are working in partnership on the volunteer programme with NHS South Sefton Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and NHS Southport and Formby CCG and the call for people to sign up has been met with an overwhelming response.

Volunteer Barbara FearnesRetired nurse, Barbara Fearns is amongst the volunteers providing support in one of the four dedicated local vaccination centres, which are run by Sefton GP practices working together in groups – known as Primary Care Networks – to immunize their patients in order of priority. Barbara is a marshal, ensuring residents know where they are going when they arrive at the centre to ensure they receive their vaccine in a quick and safe way.

Barbara, who retired in 2012, says: “I am thoroughly enjoying my volunteering role. I feel privileged to be a small cog in a big wheel in rolling out the vaccine. It’s giving me something to do during lockdown and it is nice to get out and see people.

“I feel quite emotional seeing how grateful people attending are to be vaccinated. In their words-‘it’s hopefully a step closer to normality’ I am so proud of our NHS.”

Volunteers are carrying out a range of vital roles depending on their background and skills from marshalling like Barbara, to signing in patients and other key admin tasks. Along with volunteers from the public, the vaccination programme has been supported by GP practice staff and CCG staff.

Chief officer of the CCGs in Sefton, Fiona Taylor, has also returned to the front line to help out with the COVID-19 vaccinations and is thanking all of our volunteers for supporting them at this busy time.

Fiona said: “We are so grateful to all volunteers who have helped out at our vaccination centres, from our clinical staff helping to vaccinate patients to GP practice staff, members of the public and CCG staff helping to register patients and ensure that they are kept safe whilst coming in for their vaccine. The support has been phenomenal and it has been great to work with Sefton CVS to organise the volunteer recruitment.

“I have been helping at a site in Bootle myself to vaccinate patients and it’s been an absolute pleasure and very humbling to be able to make my contribution.

“I’m really proud of all the team working so hard to keep our residents safe during this pandemic and grateful to everyone who is helping.”

The COVID-19 vaccination scheme in Sefton has been supported by volunteers from right across the borough who have given up their time to contribute to the biggest vaccination programme in NHS history.

GP practices and the CCGs are reminding everyone to be patient and to follow the current restrictions and guidance and play their part in the vaccination rollout by following these steps:

  • Do not contact your GP practice or the NHS to seek a vaccine, we will contact you
  • When we do contact you, please attend your booked appointments
  • Please attend as close to your appointment time as possible to avoid queues and to keep safe
  • Please continue to follow all the guidance to control the virus and save lives by socially distancing, wearing a mask or face covering and washing your hands regularly

You can find general information about the COVID-19 vaccine here: www.nhs.uk/covidvaccine 

Council’s COVID tests results reminder

Sefton Council is reminding people who live and work in the Borough that whatever kind of coronavirus test they take, if they get a positive result for the COVID-19 virus, they need to self-isolate.

10 Days of Self-Isolation
10-Days of Self Isolation tips

Sefton Council’s Director of Public Health, Margaret Jones said: “It’s vital that any of us who get a positive test result for COVID-19 start self-isolating straight away.

“Whether it’s a test as part of the search for the South African variant in Southport’s Norwood area, a test you have booked because you have symptoms or a SMART test because you’re a key worker or have caring responsibilities, if it’s positive you need to self-isolate immediately.

“Self-isolating means not leaving our home for 10 days to help stop us spreading the virus to other people.

Useful tips

“I know that self-isolating can present a real challenge for many of us, which is why we have posted 10 useful tips for 10 days of isolation on our website at www.sefton.gov.uk/self-isolation

“Subjects covered include financial support available, planning food and shopping deliveries, medical contacts and advice, caring for others and looking after your physical and mental wellbeing.

“Arrangements for pet care, stopping the spread of the virus at home and pharmacy deliveries are also included in the self-isolation tips.”

Efforts

Efforts to identify cases of the South African variant of the COVID-19 virus in Southport’s Norwood area will continue over the weekend.

Teams will continue to distribute home testing kits to addresses in the targeted area and, where possible, wait to collect them while people take the tests. And the Mobile Testing Units at the former Kew park-and-ride site will be open from 8am to 4pm on Saturday and Sunday.

Testing guidance

To help you take a swab, the NHS has made step-by step guidance videos:

Lockdown

National lockdown regulations remain in place so everyone should be staying at home except for essential purposes such as shopping for essential supplies, going to work if we can’t do so from home, providing care and going for a coronavirus test if we need one. And if we do go out, we all need to make sure we are maintaining at least 2-metres’ distancing, wearing a mask or face covering while out and about and washing our hands frequently.

Further local information can be found at www.sefton.gov.uk/covid19

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