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Mass COVID-19 Testing being rolled out across Liverpool City Region

Following the successful mast testing (now known as SMART testing) pilot in Liverpool, all five other boroughs in the region (Halton, Knowsley, Sefton, St.Helens, Wirral) have confirmed that they too will be offering regular testing for residents without symptoms of COVID-19 from next week.

The roll out of SMART testing across the entire city region is another positive step forward in the area’s efforts to tackle COVID-19. In addition to identifying people with the virus who could unknowingly be passing it on, regular testing will hopefully allow residents to return to the things they love – and have missed so dearly during as a result of national and local restrictions.

From early this week testing centres will be up and running in each borough.

“SMART” testing refers to Systematic, Meaningful, Asymptomatic, Repeated Testing, with the approach being based on the learning of the pilot in Liverpool and continue to be evaluated to inform how testing works nationally.

Covid-19 infection rates continue to fall across the city region’s 1.6 million people, now standing at less than 100 per 100,000 people. At their peak in October rates were around 700 per 100,000.

Early increased Covid restrictions, including being the first city region to enter ‘Tier 3’ have driven the continued decrease in numbers, however are not complacent and remain determined to continue to drive Covid-rate down, with testing crucial to this.

Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said: “It is fantastic news that the trailblazing Liverpool testing pilot is being expanded to serve the wider region. With up to a third of individuals with coronavirus showing no symptoms, regular community testing will help identify those who are infectious, but unaware that they might be spreading the disease, so that they can isolate and protect others.

“This pilot will continue to inform our plans for community testing across the country in the highest risk areas, which we are working to roll out as quickly as possible.

“I urge all those living in the Liverpool City Region to come forward and get tested.”

In a joint statement, the Leaders of the five Local Authorities – Halton, Knowsley, Sefton, St Helens and Wirral – and Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram said: “Effective testing is absolutely vital to our efforts to containing the virus, protecting our NHS and saving lives.

“Cases of Covid-19 continue to fall across the city region because of the sacrifices we have all made and because people have come forward to get tested.

“But, while we enjoy some extra freedoms under Tier 2, we cannot afford to be complacent for one second.

“We all want to get back to a normal life as soon as possible, but until the vaccine has been fully rolled out there are three things we must all continue to do.

“So please: Get tested, regularly. Self-isolate if you test positive or have symptoms. And, even if you test negative, follow the rules – hands, face, space.”

Director of Testing and Mass Vaccination for Cheshire & Merseyside, Terry Whalley, said: “This is a huge opportunity for the Liverpool City Region as we continue to lead the way on testing those without symptoms, which I believe had made and will make a real difference to the way we live with Covid-19 while we roll out an effective vaccine.

“The success of repeat, targeted testing in Liverpool over the last month has shown that we can drive down the R-number and identify positive cases in people who had no idea they were carrying and potentially spreading the virus.

“The extension of specific, meaningful testing could lead to some very real benefits for all of us as we seek to return to a more normal way of life going into 2021. Through all this additional carefully targeted testing we could see people who continue to test negative being more able to carry on with normal activities, such as attending a football match or visiting elderly relatives.

“We have a real chance here to further prove that additional testing of those without symptoms can protect lives and livelihoods and I am very proud that Liverpool City Region is at the forefront of this work.”

Details of the roll out in Sefton will be available on this site soon.

Get your flu vaccination before the countdown to Christmas

GP surgeries and pharmacies in Sefton are now working tirelessly to vaccinate thousands of residents as part of the biggest flu programme in UK history.

Those eligible for a free flu vaccination this year are:

  • Those who are 50 and over (including those who’ll be 50 by 31 March 2021)
  • people who have certain health conditions
  • pregnant women
  • people who are in long-stay residential care
  • those who receive a carer’s allowance, or are the main carer for an older or disabled person who may be at risk if you get sick
  • people who are on the clinically extremely vulnerable patient list and members of their household
  • frontline health and social care workers
  • children aged 2 – 3 years on 31 August 2020
  • all primary school and year 7 children
  • children ages 2 to 17 years with long-term health conditions.

If you are eligible, please do not call your practice. Your GP practice will be in touch to let you know the plans for you to get your vaccine.

If you have been invited to get the free flu vaccine and have not booked your appointment yet, it is not too late.

Dr Craig Gillespie, chair of NHS South Sefton Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “Flu is a potentially fatal illness and one that can spread very quickly. If you are eligible for a free flu vaccine, it is important that you take up that offer.

“Please be assured that changes have been made to make sure that it is safe for you to have the flu vaccine at GP surgeries and pharmacies. These changes include social distancing, hand washing and wearing protection equipment.”

Dr Rob Caudwell, chair of NHS Southport and Formby CCG, said: “Flu should not be underestimated. It is a serious illness and can be deadly for those who are vulnerable. The flu vaccination is the best defence we have against the virus.

“If you’re at higher risk from coronavirus (COVID-19), you’re also more at risk of problems from flu; and if you get flu and coronavirus at the same time, research shows you’re more likely to be seriously ill. Therefore, getting the flu vaccine is really important to keep you safe and to reduce pressure on the NHS and social care staff who are already dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.”

Margaret Jones, Director of Public Health for Sefton, said: “Having the vaccine is the single best way to protect against flu. It not only helps to keep you safe from the virus, but your loved ones and colleagues too.

“Good hand hygiene is also important in stopping the spread of flu. Catch any coughs and sneezes in a tissue, throw it away and wash your hands- make sure to catch it, kill it and bin it.”

Find out more information  and check whether your eligible for a free vaccine.

 

Tier 2 COVID restrictions now apply for Sefton and Liverpool City Region

The national lockdown has ended and Sefton and the rest of the Liverpool City Region are now in Tier 2 ‘High Alert’ of the Government’s alert system.

What does Tier 2 mean?

Residents and businesses within Tier 2 must stick to the following restrictions:-

  • No household mixing in any indoor setting.
  • Rule of six applies outdoors – any social gatherings of more than six people are against the law.
  • Pubs and restaurants must close by 11pm – last orders will be called at 10pm.
  • Alcohol can only be served as part of a substantial meal.
  • Spectators are allowed at sports events and live performances (capacity will be limited and social distancing must be stuck to).
  • Personal care, including hairdressers and barbers, is allowed.

The Government is reviewing the Tiers every two weeks, meaning if our figures start to increase, we could be placed in a higher category with tighter restrictions so it’s really important that everyone keeps up their efforts.

Liverpool City Region went into the national lockdown on 5 November in Tier 3 ‘Very High Alert’. This means the actions taken and sacrifices made by residents and businesses over the last month have had a positive impact on our infection rates, resulting in the area now being placed in the lower Tier 2 category.

Why are these restrictions necessary?

 We know that COVID-19 is easily transmitted from person to person and while our infection rates have been reducing, they are still too high.

Action needs to be taken to stop the spread of the virus within our communities and limiting interactions with other people as much as possible will help to contain the virus.

The restrictions are in place to protect not only yourself, but those around you.

The sooner we can contain the virus within our communities, the sooner we can get back to some sort of normality.

Remember if you, or anyone in your household, starts to experience symptoms, it is important that you isolate and book a test. The main COVID-19 symptoms are a high temperature, a new continuous cough and a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste.

You can book a test online https://www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test or by calling 119.

The full list of Tier 2 restrictions is available on the Government’s website.

Tier 2 guidance and the five-day Christmas arrangements for People who are Clinically Extremely Vulnerable from COVID-19.

Sefton Council Leader Cllr Ian Maher said:

“Everyone across the Liverpool City Region is playing their part to get our infection rates down and that effort is clearly having an impact as we have come out of lockdown in a better position and in the Tier 2 alert level.

By following the rules, we have seen a significant decrease in our infection rates across the Liverpool City Region and the mass testing programme in Liverpool is helping us to better understand the virus and, importantly, identify people who don’t have symptoms but have tested positive so that they can self-isolate and prevent the further spread of the virus.

Whilst our figures are reducing, they are still too high but we have demonstrated that by following the rules, we can improve our infection rates here across the Liverpool City Region. This is a great achievement and one that we will continue to build on over the coming weeks and months.

Stop. Think. Do the right thing by continuing to follow the rules so that we can start to do and enjoy the things we once did and get back to some sort of normality sooner.”

Joint statement from Metro Mayor, City Mayor and Leaders of the six Liverpool City Region Local Authorities on being in Tier 2 restrictions

Find out more about he Government’s arrangements for Christmas.

Targeted COVID testing in Sefton for people not showing symptoms

After the Government’s announcement that it was extending COVID-19 testing for people not showing coronavirus symptoms to 67 Council areas including Sefton, plans are coming together for testing across the Borough.

With 10,000 tests expected to be made available to Sefton each week, they will need to be targeted where they will have the most effect. The focus is likely to be on hospices and hostels where there are vulnerable residents, as well as those frontline Council workers likely to be exposed to the virus.

Coronavirus testing for people not showing the symptoms of a raised temperature, persistent new cough or loss of taste of smell, were launched in Liverpool with the support of 2,000 army personnel. Residents and people working or attending schools and colleges in the city, including some Sefton residents, are being encouraged to get tested every five days. In the first two weeks, over 150,000 tests were carried out.

Sefton’s Director of Public Health, Margaret Jones said: “With significantly fewer tests available to us, we need to devise a plan for using them where they will deliver the greatest benefit using the resources we have available, which hopefully will include military support. This is why we are focusing on places where vulnerable people are living and the staff working with them.

“Targeting the majority of tests available to us on locations where there are people for whom the COVID-19 could prove most dangerous and even fatal, will help to prevent the spread of infections and save lives.”

People receiving a negative result through the testing scheme are being reminded they still need to follow any restrictions in place to stop the spread of the virus.

Margaret Jones continued: “These new tests are a useful development and in Liverpool, are identifying a significant number of people who have coronavirus but not its symptoms and who could otherwise pass it on to loved ones, friends and colleagues unknowingly.

“However, a negative result is certainly not a passport to bypassing the restrictions and rules we’re all following because really it means you’re not infectious on the day you take the test. That can change quite quickly, which is why people in Liverpool have been encouraged to stick to the restrictions and to get re-tested regularly.”

Anyone who receives a positive test result through the scheme must isolate for 10 days.

People who are eligible can apply for a one-off, £500 Test and Trace Support Payment.

Mrs Jones added that anyone who does start showing the coronavirus symptoms of a raised temperature, persistent new cough or loss of taste of smell, should get a test immediately by calling 119 or visiting www.nhs.uk/coronavirus.

Sefton has walk-through Test Centres at Bootle Town Hall, Crosby Library Car Park, Netherton Activity Centre and Southport Town Hall.

Open from 8am to 8pm, seven days a week, walkthrough centres provide easy access to Covid-19 tests for people with coronavirus symptoms who do not have access to a car and for those who have coronavirus symptoms and should not travel by public transport.

Additionally, Mobile Testing Units are at locations across Sefton nearly every day.

Details of testing in Sefton.

Sefton Council keen to ensure environmental & social factors fully considered in Port of Liverpool growth

Sefton Council has undertaken a review of alternative technologies and potential freight logistics solutions, and is committed to ensuring that environmental and social factors are fully considered alongside the economic factors, in the growth of the Port of Liverpool. This process has been undertaken with Arup, one of the world’s leading engineering and design consultancies.

Forecasts by the Department for Transport and by the port operator show an expected growth in traffic through the Port of Liverpool, and so Sefton Council remains severely concerned about the impacts on local communities.

We are committed to exploring alternative solutions to dealing with this growth, which is reflected in Sefton’s strong opposition to the proposals for the Port of Liverpool being designated a Freeport (as was reflected in the council’s response to the governmental conversation earlier this year) unless these environmental and social impacts are mitigated, and the local economic benefits truly harnessed.

We believe there are alternative technologies and solutions that are economically-viable and environmentally-friendly, which should be considered by stakeholders.

With support from Arup, Sefton Council has led on a study to better understand the technical and economic feasibility of a range of alternative solutions. This work identifies technological solutions that are in place elsewhere in the world that could apply to Sefton, and the Liverpool City Region, that deliver significant environmental benefits compared to road traffic, and that may be economically viable.

Leader of Sefton Council, Ian Maher, said “We believe that these opportunities not only align with the government’s objectives on innovation, technology and growth, but that they have the potential to support the connectivity and competitiveness of the Port of Liverpool, while also considering the impact of the port on local communities.

“We believe that these should be fully considered as part of the port access road project development process, and would welcome the opportunity to explore these project concepts further with the port operator, Department for Transport, and other key local stakeholders.

“Whilst we understand that the growth of the Port of Liverpool could bring potential economic benefits for local communities, if developed in the right way, we remain committed to ensuring that the social and environmental impacts of this growth are given at least equal weight by all parties.”

Peter Dowd, MP for Bootle, said “I welcome the report from Arup which adds a constructive dimension to the Port Access issue. Longer term multimodal freight options, as well as a major review of how government funds major infrastructure projects is needed if we are to break into the short term, reactive solution cycle that has bedevilled access to the Port for decades.”

Download the The Inland Port and Connectivity Concept report.

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