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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.

Cllr Hardy thanks Sefton’s voluntary, community and faith organisations for their ‘amazing’ support for vulnerable residents

Our Housing & Communities Cabinet Member Cllr Trish Hardy has written to Sefton’s voluntary, community and faith organisations to thank them for their ‘amazing’ support for our vulnerable residents.

Here’s her letter.

To – all voluntary, community and faith organisations

Dear all

I would like to thank you all for your continued support to our local residents and for your ongoing support to Sefton Council throughout this pandemic. Your response to supporting our vulnerable residents has been amazing with many of you doing befriending calls, shopping, food support, dog walking and general wellbeing contact. Without you and the contribution of your volunteers many of our residents would have struggled in this last year.

As you know our priority now as a country and as a borough is to get this pandemic under control and the only way to do that is to follow the guidance and the rules around social distancing, washing hands and covering our faces. Your help to cascade these messages within your communities is needed now more than ever.  We also need to ensure that we are not doing anything that may undermine the key messages, such as organising community events or anything that brings together large groups of people for litter picking or environmental clean-ups etc. In normal circumstances I would be the first person to encourage this type of activity but now is not the time to be doing such activities, however well intended.  It is fine for households to undertake litter picks but only with the people they live with and I would ask you through your social media channels to perhaps encourage families to get involved in keeping their own streets and local parks clean and to do safely and only with those people that they live with.

We need the support of our community and voluntary organisations to model the behaviours that we would like our wider residents to follow and I am asking for your help to ensure that the clear public health messages and guidance is followed. That is the only way we can get back to normal. All Covid advice and information can be found here: COVID-19 in Sefton

There is light in sight though with the roll out of the vaccination programme and I just want to thank many of you for your support around the delivery of this. I know Sefton CVS are recruiting volunteers to support the roll out so please go the link and sign up and encourage your members and your residents through your social media pages to get involved. For more information on the volunteering roles and to sign up to become a Vaccination Volunteer please visit; volunteeringsefton.org.uk/vaccination-volunteer/

Finally I hope to be able to go out and visit many of you in the coming months when we are able to get back to face to face gatherings and community events and activities.

Many thanks

Trish Hardy's signature

Cllr Trish Hardy

Important Notice: Incident at Springbrook Residential Unit

Following an incident where a large van drove into Springbrook residential unit (for children & young people with special educational needs and/or disabilities), we can confirm that the property, which is in Ainsdale, was empty at the time of the incident and nobody was hurt.

 

Residents and businesses now have more time to give their views online about Southport’s new Liveable Neighbourhood project

Contributions and feedback on the Liveable Neighbourhoods scheme have now been extended until February 21 as a result of the current COVID-19 lockdown restrictions.

Opinions and ideas from the local community, schools and businesses are central to create new street designs for the neighbourhood, which stretches between Lord Street and Cemetery Road.

It aims to make the area safer and healthier for people to walk, cycle or use a wheelchair for local shops and services. Over 600 people have already contributed to Tell Us About Your Street survey through the post or online.

There have also been four online engagement events for local residents and businesses.

Current national lockdown restrictions mean that further face to face meetings and workshops, which are part of the process to gather views from all sections of the community, have been postponed.

The community will have a chance to comment on each stage of the design process via online workshops and surveys through the post or on the phone. In addition school children from eight schools in the area will survey their own streets and contribute ideas through activities and workshops.

Sustrans’ urban designers use the ideas from the survey and work with local residents to develop a new look street design, which will help reduce rat-running traffic and accidents in the area, and create a more attractive environment for residents and customers. Workshops to feedback the results of the surveys and initial meetings and to start to develop designs for the area will take place at the beginning of March. There will be further chance for people to have their say before a trial of the new designs.

Cllr John Fairclough, Sefton Council’s cabinet member for Locality Services, said: ““The Liveable Neighbourhoods Project is a completely community led endeavour to help make our borough clean, green and beautiful in order to protect the health and wellbeing of our residents.

“We want to get as many views as possible and now people have longer to take part. I would encourage everyone to give their feedback on the project so that we can ensure it is shaped and designed in the most beneficial way to everyone.”

“We are working closely with Sustrans to ensure that we are consulting everyone in the community where the Liveable Neighbourhoods scheme would be; from schoolchildren to business owners”

Ali Dore from Sustrans said: “We’ve had a great response so far to the survey so if you haven’t had a chance to give your views please do go online and have your say. We can’t operate our usual face to face meetings at workshops at the moment due to pandemic restrictions but we are working hard to try and reach a broad section of the community through postal and online activity.

“This stage is all about listening to people that work, live, learn and visit the area to find out the issues people face and how they would like to see the area improved.”

To give your views on the scheme please visit https://sln-sustrans-uk.hub.arcgis.com/

Reassurance and guidance to Sefton’s parents and carers                                     

Sefton’s Director of Children’s Services Vicky Buchanan and Director of Public Health Margaret Jones have written a letter of reassurance and guidance to parents and carers across the borough.                                                                    

Dear Parents and Carers

As you are fully aware the Prime Minister announced a full lockdown which meant that all schools were closed except for vulnerable children and critical worker children. This was not the start for the year that we wanted as we hoped that all children and young people would be in school by the 18th January at the very latest.

We need to drive down the infection rates in Sefton and indeed the whole country so that we are all safe and secure in returning to everyday life. In order to do that it is crucial we all follow the government guidance of staying home unless absolutely necessary. We need everyone to follow this guidance to protect not only the NHS but also ourselves, our families and our friends. Hopefully, with the roll out of the vaccine and keeping to the guidance this will happen sooner rather than later. Government guidance for schools and for parents and carers has been very clear about who should access places in schools. ‘Children with at least one parent or carer who is a critical worker can go to school or college if required, but parents and carers should keep their children at home if they can.’ Full guidance for parents and carers can be found at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-maintaining-educational-provision/guidance-for-schools-colleges-and-local-authorities-on-maintaining-educational-provision 

We would ask that if you can, as the guidance says keep your child at home then please do so. Schools are under increasing pressure to manage the number of children and young people in school due to staff not being able to attend school due to covid issues. Schools may therefore as a last resort have to consider prioritising places for vulnerable children, health workers and school staff. Schools will only do this after considering their Risk Assessment and consultation with their governing body and Sefton Council. This will be continually reviewed as situations change throughout this current lockdown. Your school will keep you informed as to what is happening. Please do discuss any concerns with your school. Alongside having children in school, schools are providing high quality remote learning for those at home.

As you can imagine this is placing a very heavy burden on staff to ensure that everyone is catered for. Please do remember that all school situations are different and this impacts on how a school will deliver remote learning. There are many different ways that this can be delivered and no one way is the only way.

Some schools may have the facilities to deliver ‘live’ lessons and other may not be able to do so, that does not mean that their offer is any less effective. Please do work with your school to support your child and if you do have any worries then do discuss with the school. All our schools have worked incredibly hard to ensure that what they are offering is helping our children and young people to carry on learning in very difficult circumstances. If you are struggling with accessing online learning please do speak to your school.

We would ask that you continue to encourage your children to follow the advice of Hands, Face, Space.

Our schools will continue to reinforce this message as well as ensuring social distancing, good ventilation, use of face coverings as appropriate, and ensuring people with symptoms do not attend. These remain

the most effective ways to reduce the spread of the virus, even with rapid testing in place within schools. However, as parents and carers you could further support by not sending children to school unless necessary – stay at home; please don’t bring children to school if they are of an age when they can walk there on their ownIf you need to take your child to school please observe hands, face, space, wear a face covering and don’t stand around the playground or school gates. We want to try and minimise people mixing.

We would ask that you continue to work with and support our schools with the same and consideration you have done so throughout this pandemic.

VICKY BUCHANAN                                                                     MARGARET JONES

DIRECTOR OF CHILDREN’S SERVICES                             DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC HEALTH

 

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