NHS bosses have pleaded with the public to follow the new lockdown rules, as new figures show six more people have died at Whiston Hospital after contracting coronavirus.

Whiston has seen a concerning rise in admissions in recent weeks, and over the weekend saw them rise from 66 on Friday to 90 by Monday.

St Helens and Knowsley Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs Whiston, St Helens and Newton hospitals, has also seen a sharp increase in coronavirus-related deaths.

READ > Council leaders insist they had 'no choice' over decision to close gyms

NHS figures show that two people who tested positive for Covid-19 died on Friday, October 9, two people on the 10, one of the 11 and one on the 12.

This means the trust has recorded 230 coronavirus deaths since the start of the pandemic in March.

The trust has warned this week that if admissions continue to rise at the current rate, it may have to prioritise treatment.

The trust’s medical director, Rowan Pritchard Jones, has also recorded a heartfelt message asking the public to help them by following the new Tier 3 lockdown restrictions, which came into force today.

Mr Pritchard Jones said: “Our hearts go out to those individuals, those businesses affected by these new restrictions.

“But we need your support to get through this, we need your support to get back to doing the things we love once again.

“By following the rules, we can stop the spread of this virus. By following the rules, your hospital can keep treating those patients who need us most.

“By following the rules we can get through this together.”

On Tuesday, Matthew Ashton, director of public health for Liverpool, gave an overview of the situation across the city region.

He told council leaders during a regional press conference that there is widespread transmission across the whole of the region, across all age groups.

Mr Ashton said there is a “very rapid” increase in cases recorded in people aged 65, which has translated to peaks in hospital admissions.

He said: “We know, as a result of that spread, our hospitals are now all under a lot of pressure. And hospital beds, Covid beds, as a result are increasing rapidly.

“In Liverpool hospitals, we have over 250 Covid-positive beds. And I think at the peak of the pandemic they had around 390, so there are a lot of Covid-positive beds.

“And that is replicated in all of our Liverpool City Region hospitals, so that’s St Helens and Knowsley, that’s Arrowe Park, that is Southport and Ormskirk, and even into Warrington.”

Mr Ashton said a further increase in deaths is expected as the new Tier 3 lockdown measures will need a “couple of weeks” to have an impact.

He also stressed the wider impact the virus is having on the region.

Mr Ashton said: “The impact on our area is not just as a result of people who are unwell, serious ill or dying as a result of Covid, but it is also the wider impact on our health care, our social care systems, and on the availability and the ability of our staff and sector to respond quickly.

“And that is why it is absolutely essential that we now do everything in our power to control and stop the spread of the virus.”

At Whiston Hospital, bosses are preparing to open its fourth coronavirus ward.

Currently, seven Covid-positive patients are being cared for in Whiston’s intensive care unit, down from nine on Monday.

In addition, four patients were also being cared for in ICU for non-coronavirus conditions.

If Whiston’s ICU reaches capacity, the trust has number of options.

READ > St Helens Council begin search for 'key' appointments

One option is to use “escalation areas”, which are essentially overspill areas within the hospital, such as theatre or recovery space.

A second option could see patients transferred to other nearby hospitals that still have ICU capacity.

This approach was taken during the first peak of the virus in March and April.