Recent cases of Covid-19 in Sefton have been linked to the Indian variant of the disease.
Earlier today, the World Health Organization (WHO) has classified the coronavirus variant first found in India last year as a “variant of global concern”.
It said preliminary studies show the B.1.617 mutation spreads more easily than other variants and requires further study.
Sefton Council leader Cllr Ian Maher sought to reassure people as he said that the Indian variant “doesn’t appear to be more infectious than the Kent variant”.
According to Government Coronavirus figures, cases in Sefton rose by 91.9% in the seven days up to 5th May.
Total cases in that week were 199, a rise of 57 on the previous week, giving a rate of 43.1 per 100,000.
Trinity St Peters Primary, Formby High School, and Range High School – all of which are in Formby – sent home bubbles after positive test results were found among their school communities.
The Hightown Pub and Kitchen, on Lower Alt Road, will be closed until 13th May after positive Covid cases were discovered.
Last week Formby Pool, which also includes a gym and fitness studio, announced that it will close for 10 days after positive Covid-19 cases were linked to the centre.
Sefton Council Leader Cllr Ian Maher said:
“We understand that while it has been detected locally, this variant does not seem to affect people more seriously or inhibit the effectiveness of the vaccines currently being rolled out across the UK.
“Also, it doesn’t appear to be more infectious than the Kent variant, which is now the dominant strain in Britain.
“Sefton Council will be working closely with Public Health England and other partners to provide all the local knowledge and expertise it can to support any work that is required to identify and contain the variant.”
“Vaccination, testing and all of us following the rules on distancing, face-covering and handwashing are all still key to preventing the spread of COVID.
“It is vital that people go along to get their first and second vaccination jabs when they are offered them. You can now get the COVID-19 vaccine if you’re aged 40 or over or if your 40th birthday is between now and 1st July. You can book your appointment online or by phone.
“And, whether vaccinated or not, it’s still important that those of us going to work or out and about regularly continue to take the rapid tests, which are free and widely available across the Borough, twice a week.”
Cllr Maher went on to add that anyone with the coronavirus symptoms of a new persistent cough, a high temperature or a loss of sense of taste or smell, should self-isolate immediately and book a PCR test by calling 119 or visiting www.nhs.uk/coronavirus.
With some pupil groups having been sent home from Sefton schools this week, Cllr Maher also stressed the importance of pupils and staff in secondary schools wearing face covering in schools.
Cllr Maher said:
“As well as in secondary schools, the rest of us need to remember the need to wear face coverings when we go into shops and other locations and use public transport.
“We all need to be taking care in inside spaces and sticking closely to the 2m distancing to protect ourselves and those around us including our friends and family, who may be vulnerable to the serious effects of COVID-19.”
Sefton has two SMART test sites for people without symptoms, at Bootle Leisure Centre and at Splash World in Southport which are open 8am to 8pm seven days a week.
Rapid home test kits can be collected from Bootle Town Hall and Splash World in Southport from 8am-8pm seven days a week. No appointments are needed.
Rapid tests for people without coronavirus symptoms usually provide a result in around 30 minutes. Rapid testing involves taking a throat & nasal swab, dropping the sample into the container supplied and then checking the result after 20 to 30 minutes.
Kits can also be collected between 2.30pm and 8pm, seven days a week, from walk-through Local Test Centres opposite Bootle Town Hall and at Crosby Library Car Park, Netherton Activity Centre and Southport Town Hall. No appointments are needed.
They are available from all Sefton’s pharmacies and they can be ordered online at www.gov.uk/order-coronavirus-rapid-lateral-flow-tests
People can also choose to have assisted testing at one of Sefton’s SMART test sites, which are also open 8am to 8pm seven days a week and located at Bootle Leisure Centre and at Splash World in Southport.
Anyone who gets a positive result from a rapid test can book a PCR test by calling 119 or visiting www.nhs.uk/coronavirus.