ST HELENS will learn today if there will be any changes to the restrictions it’s under following the first review of the government’s tiered system.

Since December 2, the borough, as part of the Liverpool City Region, has been in Tier 2, moving down from Tier 3 – the highest alert level of the government’s tiered system.

Regulations require the government to review the allocations every 14 days, with the first review complete by the end of December 16.

While infection rates and hospital admissions continue to fall in St Helens, town hall chiefs anticipate there will be no change to current restrictions.

The chances of the Liverpool City Region being placed in Tier 1 are slim, but it is also highly unlikely that it will move into Tier 3 given the improvement seen in recent months.

In making a decision about what tier an area should be placed in, the government will be using the following criteria:

  • Case detection rates in all age groups
  • Case detection rates in the over 60s
  • The rate at which cases are rising or falling
  • Positivity rate (the number of positive cases detected as a percentage of tests taken)

Latest figures show St Helens' weekly infection rate has dropped from 116.8 per 100,00 people, (211 cases in a week) from 137.3 (248) the pevious seven days.

St Helens’ infection rate has been steadily declining since entering Tier 3 at the end of October, albeit at a slower rate than its city region neighbours.

The exact reason for this is not known, although one theory is due to the geographical location of St Helens compared to surrounding areas with higher infection rates, such as Warrington and Greater Manchester.

St Helens also has fewer residents working in Liverpool compared to other boroughs in the region, who could have accessed mass testing in the city.

Residents and workers in St Helens can now access mass testing without showing any symptoms, after three sites were launched last week.

Meanwhile, data published by NHS England shows there were 40 Covid-19 patients in hospitals ran by St Helens and Knowsley Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs Whiston, St Helens and Newton hospitals, as of December 8.

A week earlier, there had been 58 patients.

The strain on Whiston’s intensive care unit has also greatly reduced in recent weeks, with three Covid patients as of December 8, an increase of one from a week earlier.

The current picture paints a vastly different one to that seen in mid-October, when the hospital opened up five Covid wards to deal with the barrage.

If we look at Covid-19 deaths, three were recorded by the trust last week, compared to six the previous week.

The huge turnaround at the trust has no doubt been driven by the reducing infections rates across the Liverpool City Region.