CORONAVIRUS infection rates and hospitalisations have seen a slight increase, the latest figures show.

In St Helens, for the seven days up to Friday, September 10, there was a weekly infection rate of 354 per 100,000.

This was from 641 people recorded to have tested positive for COVID-19 in either a lab-reported or rapid lateral flow test.

This shows an increase from the rate of 312.5 per 100,000 from 566 positive tests the previous week.

What is the situation in hospitals?

St Helens Star:

Whiston Hospital

Meanwhile, St Helens and Knowsley Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs Whiston, St Helens and Newton hospitals, was caring for 63 coronavirus patients in the latest figures for as of Tuesday, September 7.

NHS England data shows the number of people being treated in hospital for COVID-19 by 8am on September 7 was up from the figure of 50 patients, which was recorded on the same day the previous week.

The number of beds at St Helens and Knowsley Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust occupied by people who have tested positive for COVID-19 increased by 66 per cent in the last four weeks with there being 38 patients 28 days previously.

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The figures also show that 52 new Covid patients were admitted to hospital in St Helens and Knowsley Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust in the week to September 5. This was up from 36 in the previous seven days.

Meanwhile, there was one coronavirus-related death recorded in St Helens on Thursday, September 9.

This means that 493 people have died in the area since the start of the pandemic in 2020.

How is the vaccination programme going?

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Saints' Totally Wicked Stadium has been a mass vaccination centre

Meanwhile, by Saturday, September 11, 84.3 per cent of St Helens residents aged 16-plus had received a first COVID-19 vaccine dose, with 77.6 per cent having had two.

Half of 16 to 17-year-olds in St Helens have received a first dose, figures say.

Public Health England data shows 2,047 people aged 16 and 17 in St Helens had received a jab by September 4 – 50 per cent of the age group, based on the number of people on the National Immunisation Management Service database.

That was broadly in line with the average across England.

A 'booster' vaccination programme for the over-50s and younger people who are eligible is set to begin in England from September 20.

Winter plans

Outlining plans to tackle the virus during the winter period, the Prime Minister said Plan A is designed to prevent the NHS being overwhelmed, and promotes vaccines and testing.

Meanwhile, Plan B, to be used if the NHS is coming under "unsustainable pressure", would include measures such as face masks in some settings, 'vaccine passports' for mass events and guidance on working from home.