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CORONAVIRUS: ‘Alarming’ cases

CORONAVIRUS: ‘Alarming’ cases

Fears have been raised over the ‘very alarming’ rise in coronavirus cases across St Helens.

Covid-19 testing teams from the council are to assist a number of schools this week with on-site testing for pupils and staff as they return from the Christmas holidays.

Families across the borough are also being urged to make sure that pupils test before they return to school in the next few days.

The council’s mobile testing teams will be at St Cuthbert’s High School, Cowley High School, De la Salle High School and Hope Academy this week.

The teams will also be at St Anne’s Primary School in Rainhill this Friday to assist staff there.

During the Christmas period, positive Covid-19 cases in St Helens continued to rise sharply and the borough now has one of the highest rates of new infections anywhere in England.

In the week leading up to January 1, the seven day rate of infection in the borough was 2,738 per 100,000 people, with 4,926 new cases recorded.

This is three times higher than the number of cases recorded during January last year. Currently there are 120 people in St Helens and Knowsley Hospital who have Covid-19.

In addition to increased testing at schools, staff, parents and pupils are being asked to test before returning to school in the next few days, particularly with increased social mixing that will have happened within families over the Christmas and New Year period.

Cllr Anthony Burns, cabinet member for wellbeing, culture and heritage, said: “The rise in new positive cases in the borough is very alarming and with schools returning in the next few days it is essential we do all that we can to prevent further infections spreading at the current rate.

“Our testing teams will be working closely with a number of local schools during the next few days to use testing to identify new cases before they have the chance to spread.

“We would also ask parents and families to make sure their children do test before they return to school. We are testing to try and prevent further cases and outbreaks in schools so we can protect both pupils, staff, families and other residents.”

Ruth du Plessis, director of public health at St Helens Council, added: “We know that around one in three people with Covid-19 don’t have symptoms and can spread it without even knowing, leading to many new infections among pupils, staff and families. With infections now so high in the borough it is vital we take action now.

“In addition to testing before pupils return, we would also ask staff, parents and pupils to Covid-test test twice weekly, even if they show no outward symptoms of the virus or if their child is in a class with no confirmed cases so far.

“With younger people in particular it is possible to have the virus but show no symptoms and this potentially could enable infections to spread even more quickly if they are not detected first.”

Any pupils or staff who test positive for Covid -19 should stay home and not go into school and look to book a PCR test as soon as possible to confirm whether they are positive.

Words: Aran Dhillon, Local Democracy Reporter

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