PARENTS are being asked to wear face masks at the school gates in an effort to quell the alarming rise in coronavirus cases across St Helens.

St Helens' outbreak management board has met earlier today and has agreed a number of additional measures to try and stop the rate of community transmission that is currently causing the significant rise in infections. 

New figures from St Helens’ public health team showed that, between September 6 and 12, there were 201 confirmed cases of Covid-19.

This pushes the local infection rate to 111.6 per 100,000 population, the highest in Merseyside.

The measures agreed by the outbreak management board, which is made up of councillors, senior officers and MPs, include:  

  • Parents should wear face coverings when they arrive at the school gates to pick up or drop off their children and not gather in groups of more than six at the school gates.
  • Temporarily suspend care home visits.
  • Reinforcing the need for staggered drop off/pick up times for schools.
  • A halt to any temporary event licences being approved to reduce the possibility of groups of people gathering.
  • Reviewing the council’s powers to be able to take action against non-compliance with the current legislation.

The public are also urged to continue to keep following these four key preventative measures:

  • Reduce your social contact with people from outside your household and reduce the number of groups you meet.
  • Keep at least 2m apart from anyone from outside your household
  • Wear a face mask in enclosed spaces or when maintaining 2m distances isn’t possible
  • Wash your hands regularly for at least 20 seconds

An important message from your director of public health

Sue Forster, director of public health at St Helens Borough Council, warned that if the spike isn’t brought under control then hospital admissions will rise.

It is understood that Whiston Hospital has already seen a slight rise in admissions over the past week.

Ms Forster said: “Our infection rate has spiralled dramatically in a very short space of time and we need to start changing the way we all live.

“We know it is very difficult to add further restrictions here in the borough that will have an impact on many people but we have to do something because our figures are continuing to climb at an alarming rate.

“It is absolutely vital that everyone follows the rule of six and reduces meeting others socially as these are the most common ways that we are seeing people catching this virus.   

“If we do not cut off this spike we will start to see the impacts in the coming weeks in rising hospital admissions and we know other places like Bolton are now seeing their hospital coming under pressure from Covid-19 cases.

“No-one wants to see us back in the situation we were in earlier this year but if we don’t follow the key guidance we will see people, maybe someone close to you, very seriously ill.”  

A message from the leader of St Helens Council

St Helens Star: Cllr David Baines, leader of St Helens Borough CouncilCllr David Baines, leader of St Helens Borough Council

Last Friday, Merseyside was placed on the national watch list after being identified as “an area of concern” by the Government.

It is understood ministers are due to meet to discuss the growing problem in Merseyside and will consider what further measures could be put in place.

Further lockdown measures could be announced by the Government for Merseyside, or possibly even across the North West given the high infection rates elsewhere in the region.

St Helens Council leader David Baines, who chairs the outbreak management board, said: “These measures are easy to follow and if everyone does their bit to help bring our rates down then we can ease up on them more quickly.

“We have to pull together as a borough and each play our part. We know the spread is now across all age ranges and areas, and every one of us has a responsibility to stop the spread of this virus.

“We don’t want another lockdown, so please follow the guidelines and the latest advice to help keep you and your loved ones safe.” 

What to do if you have symptoms

The symptoms to look out for are a fever, a new, continuous cough or loss of taste or smell.

You must try to book a test only if you have any of these symptoms and you must isolate for 10 days.  

To book a test, click here, or call on 119.

Due to capacity issues, the council encourages people to leave it a few hours and try to rebook later in the day if they are unsuccessful first time.

Do not visit your GP, St Helens Urgent Treatment Centre or A&E if you have symptoms that are manageable and cannot get a test.   

For more advice, particularly if you need support with food and medicine or if you need to isolate, click here or call St Helens Contact Cares on 01744 676767.