“The next few days are critical” – stark warning from public health chief after Liverpool named as a COVID-19 ‘area of concern’
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Public health officials in Liverpool have warned the city faces the prospect of the reintroduction of coronavirus restrictions after it was placed on the government’s ‘areas of concern’ list, following a sharp rise in confirmed cases.
A total of 303 people have been diagnosed with the virus in the last seven days, double the previous week and four times that of the week before.
If the rate continues to rise, restrictive measures could be placed on the city similar to those in other areas such as Greater Manchester and Lancashire.
People are being urged to following social distancing guidance, wash their hands regularly and get tested if they have symptoms.
Director of Public Health Matt Ashton said: “This is a wake-up call – cases have risen four-fold in just 14 days and if that growth continues at this rate we are going to be in a very, very serious position again before we know it.
“The next few days are absolutely critical if we are to avoid an escalation and the possibility of the type of measures that we have seen in other areas of the country when cases have risen.
“Around 60 per cent of the cases are in under 40s and the very real and present danger is that they spread the disease to older people and we start to see hospitalisation of vulnerable people.
“As we learn more about this disease we are seeing worrying evidence of the longer term effects so I make no apology for stating that this is a very dangerous disease.
“Now that schools have reopened we really need to all focus on the basics to get case numbers as low as possible and stop it spreading from the community into classrooms. That means social distancing, washing hands regularly and wearing a face covering in most indoor places.
“I am asking people to cast their minds back to March and remember how quickly case numbers rose and the devastating impact that had on all of us, our families, our city, and the NHS.
“We all have a part to play here and by working together we still have a chance of avoiding enhanced measures across the city.”
People are also being advised to use venues such as pubs, bars and restaurants that are COVID-safe, and to avoid those that aren’t taking details for test and trace, maintaining social distancing and have hand sanitization stations.
The council’s licensing team are visiting venues across the city to carry out checks on the measures they have in place, issue advice and guidance and take action where necessary.
Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson said: “I’m making a plea to people in our city and people who are coming to the city to please follow the rules and the guidelines.
“Liverpool can’t afford another lockdown, we don’t want another lockdown, we’ve worked really hard to prevent economic damage to businesses and people’s jobs.
“I know it’s tough for people, but the fact of the matter is we’re starting to see an increase that could take us back to where we were in April. So we’ve got to recognise that we can place ourselves in a really difficult situation where we have to make some really tough choices about whether we do some stricter things or going into local lockdowns as we’ve seen in other parts of the city but across the whole city.
“I want to avoid that, I want to stop that happening, but for that to be the case then we all have to work together to actually make sure we are following the rules and the guidance.”
The latest weekly rate of COVID-19 in Liverpool is now around 50 cases per 100,000 people.
· Stay at least 2 metres away from anyone you do not live with or who is not in your support bubble
· Wash your hands with soap and water often, and as soon as you get home
· Use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water not available
· Wear a face covering over your mouth and nose where social distancing is not possible outdoors and indoors
· By law, you must now wear face coverings in most indoor settings including public transport, shops, post-offices, banks, beauty salons, visitor attractions and entertainment venues, libraries, community centres, places of worship and public areas in hotels. Only use Covid Safe businesses who are following the government guidance.
· If unwell to stay at home and if Coronavirus symptoms develop, then get tested
· Follow Track and Trace advice and if notified, to stay at home for 14 days