A SENIOR GP has urged the people of St Helens to adopt healthier lifestyles to help reduce the risk of becoming seriously unwell from coronavirus.

Infection rates remain high in St Helens in the wider region, while Whiston Hospital continues to deal with an influx in patients with Covid-19.

St Helens and Knowsley Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust has also seen a worrying rise in coronavirus deaths, with 54 recorded this month alone.

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This includes five deaths, which occurred between Friday and Sunday,  included in today’s figures from NHS England.

As we approach the already-challenging winter period, there are now fears that the health system will come under crippling pressure.

“Winter will bring a number of challenges relating to viral infections,” said Dr Mike Ejunoneatse, deputy chair of NHS St Helens CCG.

“Not only do we have the usual influenza virus, we are also once again seeing rising rates of coronavirus infections, which result in hospital admissions.

“There are a number of things you can do to help stop the spread of infections and protect yourself from the risk of serious illness.

“We can take the opportunity to get our annual flu vaccinations when invited to do so.

“We must also follow local government guidelines relating to coronavirus restrictions, in addition to continuing to maintain safe social distancing, wearing face coverings indoors, when in public places and practicing regular hand washing.”

While there have been exceptions, the elderly and people with underlying health conditions are generally more susceptible to Covid-19.

Obesity is also a risk factor, something which is prevalent in St Helens.

The latest figures from Public Health England showing that 69 per cent of adults in St Helens were classed as overweight or obese in 2018-19.

Dr Mike Ejunoneatse, from Central Surgery in St Helens, said making some small lifestyle changes could have some “amazing results”.

“The pandemic has turned all of our lives and routines upside down which can make it hard to maintain healthy lifestyle habits,” he said.

“The truth is that extra weight does put extra pressure on your body which makes it harder for you to fight viruses like Covid-19.

“Making little changes to your lifestyle though could have some amazing results. Try to eat healthier well-balanced meals, drink more water, get plenty of sleep and exercise regularly.

“Giving up smoking and reducing the amount of alcohol you drink can be really beneficial to your health.

“Also, taking a vitamin D supplement during the winter as we spend more time indoors can help keep your bones and teeth strong and healthy.

“Making these changes to your day-to-day life will really help to improve your general health wellbeing.”

St Helens Star: Dr Mike Ejunoneatse, deputy chair of NHS St Helens CCG and GP at Central SurgeryDr Mike Ejunoneatse, deputy chair of NHS St Helens CCG and GP at Central Surgery

Sue Forster, director of public health for St Helens Borough Council, added: “As winter approaches, Covid-19 cases continue to be high and new lockdown restrictions are introduced it’s more important than ever to maintain a healthy and balanced lifestyle.

“In St Helens we are seeing more and more people getting ill with Covid-19 and hospital admissions are rising. We all really need to pull together to stop the spread of the virus and save lives by following the measures in place.

“To protect yourself and others remember – hands, face, space. Wash hands thoroughly, wear a face covering and keep a 2 metre distance from others.”

If you have any of the main symptoms of coronavirus, get a test as soon as possible and stay at home and do not have visitors until you get the test result.

The main symptoms are a high temperature; a new, continuous cough and a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste.

If you have one or more of these, or you have been contacted by NHS Test and Trace, get a free coronavirus test online through the GOV.UK website.

If you have problems using the online service call 119.

St Helens Star:

Here are some other resources you can access.

  • NHS Better Health provides support and resources to help you kickstart back to good health.
  • St Helens Wellbeing provides specific support for health and wellbeing for St Helens residents.
  • Kind to Your Mind provides online support to improve your wellbeing.
  • Every Mind Matters has lots of expert advice and practical tips to help you look after your mental health and wellbeing.