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Knowsley Outbreak Management Board Update: 4 February 2021

by Gemma Melling


Knowsley’s latest Outbreak Management Board meeting took place on Thursday 4 February 2021.  At the meeting, the Board reviewed the latest data available and updates on the current level of cases in the borough.

In summary:

  • Over the preceding week, COVID-19 case levels had continued to decrease. However, COVID-19 case levels in Knowsley remained some of the highest in the whole of the United Kingdom.
  • The number of people in Knowsley testing positive for COVID-19 was 520.3 per 100,000 population (as at 30 January 2021). This was a reduction compared to the figures reported to the Board one week earlier, which had been 779.5 per 100,000 population (as at 24 January 2021).
  • Case levels within the over 60s population are beginning to decline but remain at a worryingly high level – Knowsley is currently experiencing the second highest level of over 60s cases in the country.
  • The recent rapid increases in admissions to Merseyside hospitals appear to have levelled off. Although this is a positive development, demand is currently still very high and there is still very severe pressure on the NHS.
  • The roll-out of the vaccination programme in Knowsley continues to progress well with an average of 1,000 doses being given each day to Knowsley residents. Work will continue to complete the vaccinations of people within the top priority cohorts in the coming weeks.  The programme will then focus on second dose vaccinations and the next priority groups.
  • Knowsley’s Director of Public Health provided an overview of the new variants which have been highlighted in recent days/weeks. It was noted that all viruses mutate, and that further new variants should therefore be expected.
  • The E484K mutation is currently specifically relevant to Knowsley – this variant is under investigation by Public Health England. Cases have been identified in the Liverpool City Region (including in Knowsley), and also in Warrington and Lancashire.
  • There is no indication that this E484K variant is more transmissible or results in more serious illness, but more work is being done to identify to what extent it may impact antibodies within the vaccine.
  • The advice to the public remains the same. The virus thrives on human contact so staying at home whenever possible and following the rules is crucially important.
  • To aid further detection of the virus within the community, the Board agreed to widen the current symptoms list and to encourage members of the public to get tested if presenting a range of wider symptoms (alongside or instead of the classic symptoms). These include:
    • Diarrhoea
    • A persistent headache
    • Fever and chills
    • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
    • Fatigue
    • Muscle or body aches
    • Sore throat
    • Congestion or runny nose
    • Nausea or vomiting
  • It was agreed to issue updated communications to the public regarding this change as soon as possible.
  • The Board was updated on a number of outbreaks across the Borough and the extensive advice and support provided to support settings and monitor ongoing issues.
  • It was reported by Merseyside Police that numerous Fixed Penalty Notices had been issued in the preceding week. Three Fixed Penalty Notices had been given to members of the public found not to be wearing face coverings at Broad Lane shops in Kirkby and further Fixed Penalty Notices were also issued in and around other retail premises, including Tesco in Prescot.  This work will continue.
  • In addition, Merseyside Police continue high visibility patrols to identify individuals partaking in unnecessary travel and breaching household mixing rules.

The Knowsley Outbreak Management Board is responsible for overseeing Knowsley’s Outbreak Management Plan – you can read it on Knowsley Council’s website.

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.