PLEASE NOTE: THIS ARTICLE HAS NOW BEEN ARCHIVED AND THE DATA CONTAINED BELOW IS NO LONGER UP-TO-DATE.
Knowsley’s latest Outbreak Management Board meeting took place on Thursday 10 September 2020. The Board reviewed the most up to date COVID-19 data available for the Borough including number of cases, tests undertaken and general trends.
- The numbers of people testing positive for COVID-19 are increasing rapidly in Knowsley, Merseyside and the United Kingdom as a whole.
- Merseyside to be placed on the Public Health England watchlist as an “area of concern”.
- Concern was expressed about the pace of escalation in the numbers of positive cases.
- Over the last 7 days, of the 2,276 Knowsley residents tested, 75 were found to have COVID-19. This equates to a positivity rate of 3.3% – over three times the 1% rate seen in the last several weeks.
- Over half of those testing positive in Knowsley are 21-39 year olds and 71% of them are women.
- There are no clear trends identified with regard to the locations of cases in Knowsley – cases are being seen across the borough.
- The Board was updated on a number of current potential outbreaks and the work being undertaken with businesses and settings to investigate and manage these issues.
- Enhanced support is still being provided to care homes and whole home testing continues. This is helping particularly to identify cases amongst staff (who may pick up the virus in the community) and exclude them from the workplace in order to reduce the risk to residents.
- It was noted that particular support is also being offered to schools as it is recognised that cases will undoubtedly be identified in the coming weeks/months.
- The latest figures clearly show that community transmission of the virus is again taking place.
- As a result of the increase in cases, it was noted that the Merseyside Resilience Forum – of which Knowsley is part – is reconvening its “response” systems.
- A meeting of the Merseyside Resilience Forum had already taken place earlier in the day and the Board was updated on planned activity which notably includes stepping up enforcement for non-compliance (both individuals and businesses). There will also be a stronger communications message for the community to stress the consequences of not following the guidance.
- All advice and general messaging on handwashing, face coverings, social distancing etc will continue to be pushed out to the community.
- The Board expressed particular concern with regard to issues with the national testing programme and current capacity. The North West currently has approximately 25% of all cases of COVID-19 in the United Kingdom but has nowhere near 25% of the testing capacity. All agreed that this was not acceptable and would need to be raised nationally by Members of Parliament and others.
- Knowsley’s Director of Public Health confirmed that the Huyton local test centre will be up and running from Friday 11 September 2020 and that sites are being identified for other locations in the Borough.
- It was noted that there are ongoing issues with the national Test and Trace system. This means that there are gaps in some of the data coming through and a lack of detail or supplementary information which makes it much harder at a local level to follow up on contacts.
- It was noted that there is still poor compliance in some settings – particularly in relation to the wearing face coverings. The Board called for further enforcement activity in this respect.
- Knowsley’s Public Health team, Infection Control and Environmental Health officers are all working above capacity to address the increase in cases.
Councillor Graham Morgan, Leader of the Council and Chairperson of the Outbreak Management Board, said: “It is a worrying time as we are starting to see the virus spreading within our communities once more. We recognise the need to take action to prevent further spread and I am pleased that our regional Resilience Forum has been reconvened to address this as a matter of urgency.
“All partners across Merseyside are working collectively to tackle this increase in case numbers and I would urge all Knowsley residents and businesses to make sure you are all playing your part. There is no excuse for not following the rules. We really do not want to risk local restrictions being reintroduced and we do not want to see more hospital admissions and deaths as we approach the winter months and the flu season.
“Please play your part.”
The Board is chaired by the Leader of the Council, Councillor Graham Morgan, and membership includes the Council’s Health and Social Care Cabinet Member (Councillor Sean Donnelly), Resources Cabinet Member (Councillor Jayne Aston), and Chief Executive (Mike Harden) alongside Knowsley’s Director of Public Health (Dr Sarah McNulty) and representatives from Merseyside Police and the Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service.