Merseyside has been added to the government's coronavirus watch list.
In a move described as a 'huge blow' for the region's fight against the virus, it means Liverpool, Wirral, Knowsley, Sefton and St Helens are now being closely monitored by government after cases rocketed across the region.
But what is the watch list, what does it now mean for the people of Merseyside and what could it lead to?
The watch list
The "watch list" is published each week on a Friday by Public Health England on the Gov.uk website.
The watch list highlights areas of concern across the country where coronavirus is making a comeback and also signals which places could face restrictive new lockdown measures in the near future.
The official title of the report which includes the list is the "Covid-19 epidemiology surveillance summary".
The report includes data from a variety of different sources: community, primary care, secondary care, virology, mortality surveillance and sero-prevalence surveillance data.
Combined, these sources show a wider community picture including a breakdown by age, gender, ethnicity and geography which helps to inform the national response to the pandemic and helps local leaders plan how to control the virus effectively.
What are the different levels
The watchlist combines a range of indicators to highlight local authorities of greatest concern.
The watchlist has three levels of severity that an area can be placed under, these are:
Areas of concern
These areas are being carefully monitored, with steps like extra testing in care homes and public health messages targeted at high risk groups.
Areas for enhanced support
These areas are being considered for intervention – read, local lockdown. The government may be sending extra experts to support local leaders. There may be additional mobile testing centres.
Merseyside now on UK coronavirus watchlist
Areas of intervention
This is where the local and national government work together to introduce specific rules designed to stop the spread i.e. the kinds of local lockdowns seen in parts of the North West.
Where is Merseyside currently?
While the government has not officially updated the list today, leaders across the region have confirmed that the whole of Merseyside is now on the list.
Find local coronavirus data for where you live
It is believed the region is now being closely monitored and leaders are being asked to report back to government on what action is being taken to prevent the need for further restrictions.
At this point there are no further specific restrictions being imposed on the people of Merseyside – but this could change very quickly if cases continue to rise at the pace they have been doing in recent days.
Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson said that if things do not improve and people do not change their behaviours soon then restrictions could be placed on the region as early as next week.