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Dedicated testing for COVID variant in Sefton ending on Friday

Swab Squad at Freshfield station
Swab Squad at Freshfield station

Cllr Ian Maher, Leader of Sefton Council has confirmed that dedicated testing in the Borough for the COVID-19 variant first identified in India will end this week.

He said: “Following discussions with Public Health England and close monitoring of case levels in Sefton, we will be ending the dedicated testing in the Formby area on Friday 4th June.

“After a rise in local coronavirus cases and being informed that the variant first identified in India was present in the Borough, we quickly set up specific drive-through and walk-through testing in the Formby area.

Thanks

“We encouraged people living, working and studying in the area to come forward for the specific testing and I would like to thank the thousands who have come forward and done just that.

“I would also like to thank all the Sefton Council teams involved in setting up and running the dedicated testing so quickly as well as all the work of Public Health England and our partners in supporting the initiative.

“Fortunately, the proportion of cases related to the variant remained relatively low and we are now in a position where we can step down the specific testing.”

Over 3,000

During around three weeks of dedicated testing in Sefton for the variant first identified in India, over 3,100 PCR tests were carried out at drive-through, walk-through and pop-up test sites.

Sefton Council’s Director of Public Health, Margaret Jones, said that the very high level of uptake for first and second doses of the vaccine in the Formby area offered protection which played a part in controlling the virus in the area.

But despite the end of dedicated testing and the low incidence of the variant detected, Cllr Maher warned that Sefton was far from being out of the woods. He urged people living, working and studying in the Borough along with visitors to remain cautious.

Vaccinations key

Cllr Maher continued: “Vaccinations have played a key role in suppressing the spread of coronavirus and the variant and if we are going to continue making progress back to normality, it is vital that people go and get their first and second jabs when they are invited.

“We also need people to carry on taking the free, easily-available rapid tests twice a week to ensure they are not infected but not showing symptoms.

“And it’s vital that anyone who does get a positive result or develops symptoms must self-isolate and book a PCR test straight away. Self-isolating means staying at home and not going out for any reason such as shopping or exercise and trying to reduce the risk of infecting other family members where possible. Advice on support and self-isolating tips are on our website at www.sefton.gov.uk/isolating.”

“Also, we need everyone who is offered their first or second vaccination to go along and have their jabs, because the vaccines offer the best protection from the virus and its variants, particularly when combined with social distancing, mask-wearing and thorough handwashing.”

RAPID testing

RAPID testing for people without symptoms continues at Bootle Strand and Southport’s Splash World. The Splash World site is open from 8am to 8pm seven days a week. The Bootle Strand site, the former H Samuel unit, is open 8am to 6pm Monday to Saturday and from 10am to 4pm on Sundays.

RAPID Lateral Flow Tests (LFTs) provide people with a result in around 30 minutes.

People without symptoms who are going to work or are out and about regularly should also be taking home RAPID home tests twice a week. RAPID home testing involves taking a throat & nasal swab, dropping the sample into the container supplied and then checking for the result after 20 to 30 minutes.

No symptoms

Around one third of people with coronavirus do not show any of the tell-tale symptoms of a new persistent cough, a high temperature or a loss of taste or smell. Taking regular rapid tests helps those asymptomatic carriers to help make sure we don’t pass on the virus accidentally.

Free RAPID test kits are available from any Sefton pharmacy and between 2.30pm and 8pm, seven days a week from the Borough’s walk-through Local Test Centres. These are located opposite Bootle Town Hall and at Crosby Library Car Park, Netherton Activity Centre and Southport Town Hall.

People who aren’t confident about taking a rapid test at home can choose to go for an assisted test at Sefton’s new Bootle Strand or Southport Splash World test sites.

Latest COVID variant testing sites for Formby area

Pop up Swab Squad at Formby station
Pop up Swab Squad at Formby station

Our ‘Swab Squads’ are still out at pop-up sites, carrying out coronavirus testing for the variant first identified in India and providing advice.

They will be at:

  • Thursday 3rd June
    Waitrose 9am -7pm
    Formby station 9-5pm
  • Friday 4th June
    Waitrose 9am -7pm
    Freshfields Station 9-5pm

The drive-through and walk-through test centre at Deansgate Lane Park in Formby is now closed.

Living, working & studying

Health leaders have urged everyone aged 16 and over living, working and studying in the Formby area to take one of these dedicated tests.

The teams at the pop-ups are also handing out free home testing kits and will be joined by Community COVID Engagement Officers who can provide vaccination advice.

Local, dedicated coronavirus testing for the variant first identified in India was introduced in Sefton’s Formby area after cases of the variant were identified locally.

Dedicated

Announcing the testing last week, Sefton’s Director of Public Health, Margaret Jones said: “We are encouraging everyone aged over 16 who lives, works or studies in Formby to attend one of our dedicated local test sites.

“It’s important that people go to these dedicated test sites and not to our other sites, as these are the ones specifically set up to identify the Indian variant.”

People can find out more about testing in Sefton at www.sefton.gov.uk/COVID-testing

Green Bin Update 31/05

Unfortunately due to resource issues Cleansing Services Crews were not able to collect all green garden waste bins on Monday 31st  May (Bank Holiday).  If your collection was missed we will do our best to return this week, please leave your green bin in a safe position at the edge of your property until Saturday 5th June.

Garden Waste collections are not a statutory collection and not funded through your Council Tax, many authorities now charge for this service.  Our priority is to collect all residual and co-mingled brown recycling bins.

If you do have excess green waste you need to dispose of before your next collection all Household Waste and Reception Centres are now open.

We apologise for this inconvenience.

Sefton’s tenants & landlords urged to contact housing service now Government’s evictions ban has ended

After the Government’s ban on Evictions ended on Monday 31st May, Sefton Council is urging any local tenants or landlords expecting problems to get in touch.

The Government brought in the ban in response to the coronavirus pandemic. It was extended from its original September deadline but ended on the last day of May.

Advice

Leaflet outlining how Sefton Council's Housing service can help tenants
Tenants Leaflet

Sefton Council’s Homeless Prevention Service can provide advice to the Borough’s tenants and landlords.

They can help tenants find support to help them maintain their tenancy or with moving on to more affordable and suitable accommodation. And they can assist landlords that are facing issues such as rent arrears and late or inconsistent rent payments.

Landlords who have concerns about vulnerable tenants can also contact the team for support in resolving the situation.

The Homeless Prevention Service can be contacted at homeless.prevention@sefton.gov.uk  or by calling 07966 698 065 or 07870 379586.

Impact

Cllr Trish Hardy, Sefton Council’s Cabinet Member for Communities and Housing said: “The impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on many people’s circumstances and incomes is likely to be making the costs of housing a problem for some people in Sefton.

“We want any tenants who think they might be facing problems after the Government ends its eviction ban at the end of May to contact us as soon as possible so that we can work with them to find practical solutions.

“And we want to hear from landlords expecting difficulties, so that we can help them reach practical solutions without the lost rent and other costs that can result from evictions and disputes.”

Leaflet outlining how Sefton Council's Housing service can help landlords
Leaflet for Landlords

Evictions or arrears

Sefton Council wants to hear from tenants who have received an eviction notice or have rent arrears, who are managing outstanding and current debts or who are trying to reduce their expenses or get the most from their income.

People having problems applying for Discretionary Housing Payments (DHPs) and with concerns about their own or family members’ mental health, drug or alcohol issues affecting your tenancy should also contact the service.

Landlords who contact the team may be concerned about affordability issues due to a change in circumstances, anti-social behaviour, their tenant’s mental health, addiction or other vulnerabilities that are affecting the tenancy.

Conversation

Cllr Hardy added: “It is not always easy to talk about these issues, but Sefton Council’s Homeless Prevention Service can help start that conversation easier and then to find constructive ways to overcome the problems.

“I would urge any tenants or landlords who are worried to contact the Team now at homeless.prevention@sefton.gov.uk  or on 07966 698 065 or 07870 379586.”

People can also find out more information at www.sefton.gov.uk/housing or   www.gov.uk/if-youre-homeless-at-risk-of-homelessness

People in Sefton encouraged to have their second COVID-19 vaccine

Get your second vaccine poster
Get your second vaccine poster

The NHS in Sefton is reminding all residents to get their second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine booked in as soon as possible, to get maximum protection and help curb the spread of the virus across the borough.

Following updated national guidance, NHS South Sefton Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and NHS Southport and Formby CCG are also encouraging people aged over 50 to take up the offer of bringing forward their second doses of the COVID-19 vaccine when they are contacted, to ensure they have the strongest possible protection from the virus at an earlier opportunity.

Brought forward

Sefton residents who are over 50, and those who are clinically vulnerable, are now able to have their second dose of the COVID-19 vaccination brought forward from 12 to 8 weeks after their first dose. Anyone who is due their second vaccine and is in one of the top nine priority groups, will be contacted by the NHS to let them know when and how to rebook.

If they had their vaccine at a GP led vaccination site, their GP will be in touch with them to book them in for their second dose earlier than planned.

For those who booked via the national booking service they will be contacted by the NHS to rearrange for an earlier date. Once contacted, they will then need to cancel their existing second dose appointment online or by calling 119. When they have cancelled their existing appointment, they will be able to book a new date at around 8 weeks after their first vaccine dose, or as soon as possible after that.

Increased defence

Dr Rob Caudwell, local GP and chair of NHS Southport and Formby (CCG), said: “While the first dose of the vaccine does give good protection from the virus, the second dose gives you an increased and longer-lasting defence, so we encourage those eligible to get their second dose as early as possible by bringing their appointments forward when contacted to do so.”

“The vaccines have been proven to be highly effective against COVID-19, including against the new variant first identified in India, so getting both your doses as soon as you are able will help us to keep our communities in Sefton protected.”

Never too late

Dr Craig Blakey, GP and urgent care lead for NHS South Sefton CCG, said: “More than 170,000 people in Sefton have received their first dose of protection so far, and over 111,000 have already been fully vaccinated.

“Vaccines are safe, effective and it’s never too late to get your jab so if you’re eligible – do not delay booking in for your appointment.

“Getting vaccinated is the most important step we can take to protect ourselves, our families and our communities against COVID-19.”

NHS staff are continuing to vaccinate Sefton residents according to national guidance on priority groups and anyone aged 30 and over can now book their jab through the national booking system.

There are several vaccination centres across Merseyside that anyone eligible can make appointments at, including nine pharmacies in Sefton based in Ainsdale, Bootle, Formby, Litherland, Seaforth, Southport and Waterloo.

First or second

When invited, people in Sefton will be able to book their first or second doses by calling 119 or visiting the national booking service website: www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19.

Text invitations appear as an alert from ‘NHSvaccine’, including a web link to the NHS website to reserve an appointment.

People 39 and under without underlying health conditions, as well as pregnant women, will be offered the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine in line with recently updated JCVI guidance.

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