HEALTH chiefs are “working closely” to ensure St Helens is prepared for a possible coronavirus outbreak, the borough’s public health director has said.

So far no cases of the respiratory disease have been confirmed in St Helens, although the virus has now reached Merseyside.

It has been confirmed today that a school in Wirral has closed with immediate effect after the parent of a pupil tested positive for coronavirus.

READ > Ombudsman upholds social care complaints against St Helens Council

The Local Democracy Reporting Service has asked St Helens Council and St Helens CCG what steps it has taken – or is planning to take – to prepare for a potential outbreak here in St Helens.

Sue Forster, the council’s director of public health, said: “St Helens Council and NHS St Helens Clinical Commissioning Group along with our other system partners continue to work closely together to ensure that we have plans and pathways in place to plan for any possible outbreak.

“Key to this is sharing key messages and information from Public Health England and the NHS to help delay spread and mitigate concerns.

“Everybody can take simple steps to stay well, including good basic hygiene especially washing your hands regularly, using hot water and soap or alcohol hand rub.

“With coronavirus spreading through droplets between people in close contact with each other, If you sneeze or cough or have a winter cold, blow your nose then dispose the tissue and wash your hands so germs don’t spread.

“Remember: catch it, bin it, kill it.”

St Helens Star: Sue Forster, St Helens Council's director of public healthSue Forster, St Helens Council's director of public health

How big is the risk?

Coronavirus is a respiratory disease with symptoms similar to colds and flu, such coughs, fever and breathing difficulties.

According to analysis from the World Health Organisation, the vast majority of people who contract the virus will only develop mild symptoms.

Older people and people with pre-existing medical conditions are more likely to become severely ill.

Many of those who have died from the virus were already in poor health.

So far, around 1 per cent and 2 per cent of those who have contracted the virus worldwide have died, although the figures are unreliable.

This is because it is possible that many mild cases remain unreported – meaning the death rate could be lower – while many people are still being treated and could yet go on to die, pushing the death rate higher.

What should I do if I think I have coronavirus?

If you suspect you have virus, the medical advice is to not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital.

The advice is to stay indoors, avoid close contact with people and contact NHS 111.

NHS 111 has a phone and online coronavirus service that can contact you if you need medical help and advise you what to do.

You should use this service if you think you might have contracted the virus or if you have recently been to a country or area with a high risk of coronavirus.

Where can I find the latest NHS advice?

The most up to date information is available on and