Knowsley’s latest Outbreak Management Board meeting took place on Thursday 13 August 2020. The Board reviewed the data available for the Borough and was also provided with an update on the small increase in cases in the L36 area of Huyton as reported last week.
The Board considered figures and information presented by Knowsley’s Director of Public Health showing the current number of cases in Knowsley, tests undertaken, comparisons with other regions, and general trends.
The Board concluded:-
- The response to the rise in cases in the L36 area of Huyton was rapid and effective, particularly in increasing local testing capacity, spot checks to ensure that guidance is being followed, and sharing advice with the local community.
- Local efforts to support the national contact tracing system had been effective and Council officers had made good progress in alerting people potentially at risk from being on contact with those with COVID-19
- Case numbers in the L36 area of Huyton had increased this week but not at the same rate seen for the previous 14 days. There was no additional cause for concern or local measures required. Figures will continue to be monitored closely on a daily basis.
- Overall in Knowsley, it was noted that, whilst case numbers remain low, there had been a small but sustained increase in new cases. Previously data was showing between 0-2 new cases per day, and this has now arisen to around 3-4 new case per day.
- The increase in new cases demonstrates increased transmission within the community, and this is something of concern. While an increase in new cases is understandable given the easing of lockdown restrictions, the Board were keen to ensure continued close monitoring of the situation – the aim is to avoid any rapid escalation and reduce the risk of potential local lockdowns.
- There are no specific trends in the age or characteristics of those presenting with the virus.
- The numbers of people being tested in Knowsley remains high with good engagement from local communities.
- Positive test rates for Knowsley are around 1.1% – this continues to be in line with the national average and is lower than the average for the North West as a whole.
- The Board acknowledged the need for balanced messaging to allow communities to continue to reengage with “normality” (i.e. socialise, shop, go to the gym etc) whilst acting responsibly, following the guidance, and staying alert to risks.
- Residents continue to be reminded to follow strict handwashing advice, follow guidance on social distancing, and the wearing of face coverings, and get tested if they have symptoms.
- Advice for businesses will continue to be pushed out to help them to understand the ways in which they can help to maintain safety and ensure that they can continue to trade.
- Advice has now also been finalised and shared with Care Homes on a new approach to visiting. The guidance recognises local risks and the current circumstances in individual settings and provides protocols and procedures to follow with a view to continuing to ensure the safety and wellbeing of some of Knowsley’s most vulnerable residents.
Councillor Graham Morgan, Leader of the Council and Chairperson of the Outbreak Management Board, commented:
“We are continuing to keep a close eye on the COVID-19 figures for Knowsley and we are seeing a small but sustained increase in new cases. Although our overall figures remain low and we are way off the levels we are seeing elsewhere in the North West, we must not be complacent.
COVID-19 still represents a major risk to the health of our residents, with patients still regularly being hospitalised with the illness. If infection rates continue to increase, COVID-19 will also pose a significant threat to the economic and social health of the Borough and potentially have even longer lasting negative impacts for us all.
We all want to keep moving positively, but, for that to be possible, we all have to play our part – individuals, families, friends, businesses and more. No one wants to see a local lockdown here. So, please make sure you act responsibly, follow the guidance in shops, pubs and other public places, observe the rules on meeting with those outside your household, get a test if you have symptoms, and, if you are contacted through Test & Trace, follow the guidance which you are given.
The risk is too great and we have made too much good progress to let things slip now.”
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.