Borough’s coronavirus spike due to ‘more testing’

Wirral’s three-fold increase in coronavirus cases over the past week is due to “increased testing”, the council has said.

In the seven days up to August 25, the borough saw 44 new cases of Covid-19 compared to just 14 in the previous week.

The sudden rise followed a period when cases in Wirral were among the lowest in Merseyside and has pushed the borough’s infection rate up to more than 13 cases per 100,000 residents.

Council leader Pat Hackett has sought to reassure residents while urging continued vigilance by laying responsibility for the rise with increased testing in the borough.

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Cllr Hackett said: “Wirral currently has a low number of coronavirus cases when compared to many other parts of the North West. However we cannot be complacent.

“Recent figures show that coronavirus is still circulating in our community and I would urge anyone who is experiencing Covid-19 symptoms to self-isolate and book a test.

“We have increased testing in the borough with mobile units operating throughout August and this will continue in September, in addition to the satellite testing site in Bidston. As a result, we are seeing more positive cases as more people come forward to get tested.

“This is enabling us to be more robust with our response as we work with partners to protect our residents and the NHS.”

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Data from Public Health England suggests cases are spread throughout the borough, with clusters in Wallasey, New Brighton, Higher Bebington, Egerton Park and Oxton.

This week’s rise in Wirral’s coronavirus cases reflects a trend seen across Merseyside over the past month, which has seen most boroughs experience spikes after a period of lower levels of Covid-19.

In Liverpool, the weekly total of new cases climbed above 90 last weekend for the first time since the end of May and the city’s director of public health has warned people to maintain social distancing amid concerns cases could rise further once schools reopen next week.

Sefton, St Helens and Knowsley also saw sudden rises during August, but no borough has seen cases increase to the levels that have sent areas like Blackburn and Manchester back into lockdown.

The rise in cases has not yet been reflected in increased hospital admissions or deaths from coronavirus and the first two weeks of August saw the region’s lowest weekly death toll of the crisis.

Cllr Hackett added: “We are seeing more young people testing positive but so far that has not led to an increase in hospital admissions which is reassuring.

“We all need to do our bit by adhering to the guidelines of social distancing, regular handwashing and wearing a face covering so we can stop the spread of coronavirus, protect our loved ones and keep Wirral well.”