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Knowsley’s latest Outbreak Management Board meeting took place on Thursday 14 October 2021. At the meeting, the Board reviewed the latest data available and updates on the current level of COVID-19 cases in the borough.
- Current COVID 19 case levels remain relatively stable at present at 306 per 100,000 population – although an increase is anticipated in the coming days.
- Rates in the over 60s population remain at a higher level than seen in earlier waves of the pandemic (spring 2021) and this continues to be closely monitored.
- Knowsley continues to see the most COVID-19 cases concentrated in the 10 to 14-year-old age group (something that is being seen across the country) although Knowsley’s case levels are the lowest in Cheshire and Merseyside.
- Some concern was expressed about the relatively low testing rates currently being seen in this age group in particular and a general ‘fatigue’ was reported in terms of testing.
- The current testing rate across all age groups is 591.5 per 100,000, which is below the north west average of 650.6 per 100,000. Testing rates in the 10 to 14 age group are half that seen in parts of Cheshire.
- All agreed to continue pushing the importance of testing to all age groups and particularly school age children and young people.
- The number of COVID-19 patients occupying local hospital beds has also fallen slightly and is currently 4% for St Helens and Knowsley Trust and 5% in Liverpool.
- However, it was specifically noted that local hospitals are experiencing pressures from increased demand generally. Bed capacity is very low with some local hospitals experiencing significant difficulties in managing demand.
- The Board noted the concern and also acknowledged the work being carried out by local authority colleagues to assist in discharge arrangements for any medically fit patients.
- An update was provided on the roll out of the vaccination programme. Currently 95,000 eligible Knowsley residents have had both doses of the vaccine.
- The Board noted the positive progress made to provide a sustainable vaccination offer for residents across the borough.
- There continues to be a low uptake in the 16 to 17-year-old cohort with only a third of residents in this age group having received the vaccine. This is in comparison to figures across Cheshire & Merseyside where approximately half of all eligible residents have been vaccinated.
- An update was provided on the roll out of vaccinations for 12 to 15-year-olds (being delivered in schools). It was also confirmed that half term catch-up clinics are being arranged for any pupils who may have been unable to attend clinics to date.
- The Board were keen to ensure that communications targeting these cohorts should continue and that additional reassurance messaging be shared particularly with parents to ‘bust the myths’ around the vaccine or potential perceived risks.
- Knowsley CCG also confirmed that the borough’s COVID booster programme was also underway.
- An overview was given regarding any outbreaks within school or care home settings – although overall at present there are no incidents or outbreaks of concern.
- In addition to providing further information for parents and younger residents on the importance of vaccination, it was also agreed to target communications to pregnant women too to support efforts to boost uptake in this cohort.
The Board is chaired by the Leader of the Council, Councillor Graham Morgan, and membership includes the Council’s Adult Social Care Cabinet Member (Councillor Louise Harbour), Resources Cabinet Member (Councillor Jayne Aston), Health Cabinet Member (Councillor Christine Bannon), and Chief Executive (Mike Harden) alongside Knowsley’s Director of Public Health (Dr Sarah McNulty) and representatives from Merseyside Police (when required).