WIRRAL is one of the areas in the country most at risk from coronavirus, a new study suggests.
Other parts of Merseyside are also particularly vulnerable.
Figures suggest Wirral could end up as one of the worst hit areas in England.
The figures, which come from a study by the Centre for Progressive Policy, looked at confirmed cases of Covid-19, healthy life expectancy, the size of the older population, the usual rate of death from treatable conditions, and the quality of care available.
Wirral was projected to be the third worst hit area in the country, while St Helens was the sixth most 'at risk' borough, Knowsley was eighth, Liverpool was ranked twentieth and Sefton fourtieth.
The reasoning behind the report is that different local areas and health systems will experience the crisis differently.
Not only will the number of cases differ substantially from place to place so that the timing of the peak will be localised, but different areas will be better or worse equipped to deal with the surge.
Local areas that experience the largest number of cases and have the least resilience through local infrastructure such as hospitals and care homes, are most likely to see the highest mortality rates.
There were 292 confirmed cases of Covid-19 for every 100,000 people in Wirral as of April 28.
The report also takes into account health life expectancy.
In Wirral this stands at 61 years old.
This means that while a newborn baby can expect to live far beyond 61, they can only expect to live in good health until 61 years of age.
As well as this, some 22% of the borough’s population are over the age of 65 and the area saw 97 deaths from treatable conditions for every 100,000 people between 2016 and 2018.
Finally, just 2% of adult social care providers in Wirral were rated as outstanding, 72% as good, 22% as requiring improvement and 5% as inadequate.
All these factors combined to make Wirral the third-riskiest place for coronavirus in the country, behind Middlesbrough and Walsall.
Excess deaths will not just be the result of the Covid-19 virus, but from other conditions that stretched health services will be less able to treat.
The effects of this are already being felt in Merseyside, although the risk levels identified here are looking more at the long-term impact.
Separate figures from the Office for National Statistics, published this morning, show that there were 308 confirmed deaths from Covid-19 in Liverpool between March 1 and April 17.
That works out as 82 deaths for every 100,000 people – one of the highest rates in the country, and more than twice as high as the national average of 36 for every 100,000 people.
Looking at all deaths, not just Covid-19, there were 905 recorded in Liverpool during that time, or 242 for every 100,000 people – showing the impact when it comes to other conditions.
That compares to 161 deaths for every 100,000 people across England and Wales.
Nationally, the figures reveal a huge North-South divide.
Of the top 20 places deemed to have the greatest risk, just one – Luton – is in the south.
Also in the 10 most affected areas are Wolverhampton, Gateshead, Sandwell, Blackpool and Barnsley.
There’s a strong link with deprivation when it comes to overall risk and current death rates, with a decade of Tory austerity and neglect being blamed by some for the heartbreaking disparity.
The government’s Index of Multiple Deprivation shows that the areas most at risk are also some of the most deprived areas in the country.
Labour MP Conor McGinn, who represents St Helens North, said that the area’s industrial past has contributed to high rates of respiratory diseases, as has its older population.
Mr McGinn said: "Added to ten years of austerity that has seen huge funding cuts to the council and NHS, it is understandable that places like ours will be badly affected by coronavirus.
“We cannot return to such rampant and unacceptable inequality.”
Charity groups have said that the government urgently needs to address the life expectancy gap that has been highlighted during the pandemic.
Iain Porter, who manages social security policy at the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, said: "The link between poverty and ill health is well known.
“After the immediate threat of Covid-19 has passed we need an ambitious plan to address the social and economic factors that reduce the healthy life expectancy of people in the worst-off areas.
“But the priority right now is to help families who have been swept into poverty weather the coronavirus storm.
“That’s why we’re calling for an urgent temporary increase of £20 per week to the child element of Universal Credit and child tax credits to offer a lifeline to families most at risk of hardship.”