Merseyside is teetering on the brink again and we all must act

There will be many big moments for our region in this pandemic – and today is certainly one of them.

from today, new restrictions come into force for the whole Merseyside area – and beyond – that will impact on everyone's way of life.

The rules come into place as infection levels continue to soar across the region at alarming rates.

None of us wanted to be here after what we all went through in the Spring.

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But we should never forget just how badly this proud region suffered in March, April and May and how many families are still bereft with grief from that time.

I certainly haven't forgotten reporting on staggering daily death numbers from our region's hospitals or speaking with devastated families about the loved ones they had suddenly lost in the most cruel and lonely of circumstances.

I won't forget speaking with exhausted and desperate NHS staff members who were giving everything to try and stem the flow of tragedy hitting our area.

This is something we must all surely want to avoid happening again – to go through that as a community once more doesn't bear thinking about.

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Some people will point out that while case numbers have been spiralling out of control in our region and across the country in recent weeks, death numbers linked to covid-19 have not yet surged.

Surely the point is that we must act now to avoid those terrible numbers rising.

If we act too late, once the fatalities are moving quickly upwards, it could be too late.

We have seen from other countries like Spain and France, known to be ahead of us in the journey of the pandemic, how Covid-19 deaths have been rising after an initial re-emergence of cases amongst the younger and less vulnerable generations.

As the government's Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance explained yesterday, there are real fears that the UK will follow the same trajectory – as we did in the Spring – if something doesn't change.

He said: "As the disease spreads, as it spreads across age groups, we expect to see increasing hospitalisations and unfortunately, those increasing hospitalisations will lead to increasing deaths”.

You may recall that in the Spring, Liverpool and Merseyside as a whole had one of the worst death rates of those who became infected with Covid-19 in the country.

Simply put, more people who contracted the virus here went on to die than in many other areas.

A big part of that is because our region sadly has some really poor health inequalities, with high levels of illnesses like COPD, which make people very vulnerable to the worst ravages of Covid-19.

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It is these people we must all now think about as we head into what is clearly going to be a crucial few months.

No one is suggesting that extra lockdown measures introduced today won't be very difficult for lots of people.

Liverpool is a city that relies heavily on its proud tourism and hospitality industry, a vibrant city that welcomes visitors from all over the world.

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Many will be affected by new measures restricting how people can go out to eat, drink and socialise – and we must hope that they will not have to be in place for too long.

But if we don't all play our part, if we don't all amend our behaviour, then these sectors and those working with them will only suffer more as a full-scale lockdown would be likely to follow.

That may well end up being the case anyway sadly, but right now everyone can do their bit in trying to stop us heading back to that most difficult of times.

We can stop and think about our actions, our plans and what we can do to keep our friends and neighbour safe.

We see plenty of voices shouting loudly on social media about the virus being a hoax or from people claiming they won't be following any restrictions – but I strongly believe this is just a vocal minority.

I think most people, especially in this famously compassionate corner of the country, will want to do everything they can to fight for the lives of our most vulnerable people.

That fight starts again today.

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