Sefton has ‘done a brilliant job’ of containing Indian variant

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Coronavirus rates in Sefton have fallen by almost half in a week, after a surge in cases prompted mass testing in parts of the borough.

There were concerns in the area as infection rates were growing after the new variant of concern from India had been detected locally.

The outbreak centred around the Formby area, forcing the closure of a pub and a leisure centre – and hundreds of school pupils were also sent home to isolate.

This led to public health teams deploying surge testing in the area in a bid to contain the spread of the variant.

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Swift action taken by the council and local health chiefs to try and contain the outbreak appears to be working.

In the seven days to May 16, the infection rate for Sefton fell from 52 per 100,000 to 28 per 100,000 people.

Jenny Harries, the head of NHS Test and Trace and Chief Executive of the UK Health Security Agency, praised Sefton for how it is dealing with the Covid variant.

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During a Downing Street briefing yesterday Ms Harries said: “Sefton for example has done a brilliant job recently with rising cases of this variant.”

Nearby areas such as Bolton and Blackburn have also seen recent spikes – but are not faring so well in the battle against the virus.

According to government data, Bolton's cases doubled in the week up to May 14, while Blackburn with Darwen saw a 53% increase.

Margaret Jones, Sefton Council’s Director of Public Health, told the ECHO: “Jenny Harries' comments are very welcome and reflect Sefton people’s willingness to work with us by getting vaccinated when they are invited, getting tested including coming forward for the targeted testing for the variant in Formby and sticking with precautions.

“They also reflect all the hard work and dedication by Sefton Council staff and our partners but it doesn’t mean we can relax. As recent events have shown, coronavirus is still with us and we all need to remain vigilant, follow the guidelines and protect ourselves and each other.

“That’s the only way we are going to return to the levels of normal life that we all want to see.”

More hopeful news comes in the form of hospital admissions.

As of May 11, the most recent data available, there was one person with coronavirus in Southport Hospital and this person was not on a ventilator.

Nearby Liverpool University Hospitals Trust – which includes the Royal Liverpool, Aintree and Broadgreen Hospitals – had seven patients with coronavirus on May 11.

None of these required ventilation at the time.

There have been no coronavirus-related deaths at Southport Hospital since April 9, when one death was reported.

The most recent coronavirus-related death at Liverpool University Hospitals Trust was on May, 6 when one death was reported.