Latest figures show that Wirral’s COVID-19 infection rate has risen considerably from 67.3 per 100,000 last week to 120.1 per 100,000, showing a 78.5% increase. The number of cases (Pillar 1 & 2) rose from 218 to 389.
With widespread non-symptom testing starting in the borough recently, numbers were expected to rise. However, the figures show that the rise is greater than can be accounted for by the number of positive tests in non-symptomatic people.
The most recent figures for the week ending 18 December, saw 21 of the 22 wards of Wirral with a rise in the infection rate, with only Liscard showing a small drop.
Symptom-free testing began in Wirral on Monday 7 December to help stop the spread of Covid-19 this winter.
In a statement released earlier today, Wirral Council said, “Due to incredible demand we have taken the difficult decision to temporarily close the queues at our symptom-free testing sites today in Wirral.”
Director of Public Health for Wirral Julie Webster said, “Unfortunately, we have had to take the difficult decision to close the queues early at our symptom-free testing centres in Wirral today.
“Our sites have experienced incredible demand for symptom-free testing this week and we are now seeing many people from outside of the area coming to Wirral to access the testing centres. This is adding to what was already high demand and has resulted in us taking the difficult decision to close early today to ensure we can process tests for the people who have already been queuing for some time.
“We have also taken a decision to close the Birkenhead Market symptom-free testing centre from today until the New Year. The staff will be re-distributed to the Floral Pavilion site so that it can deliver as many tests as possible over the festive period. This short break will enable us to review how best to deliver symptom-free testing in the heart of Birkenhead in 2021.
“Our symptom-free testing was launched in early December to help identify those people who did not know they had COVID-19. It has helped us to identify more than 250 people who were unknowingly positive and enabled them to self-isolate and protect their loved ones and others. Testing has been hugely embraced by the population of Wirral and we would like to thank all of the staff at all of our testing centres for getting us up and running and doing all they can to keep people safe.
“However, symptom-free testing should not be seen as a replacement for the measures we’ve all become used to this year, especially over the festive period. Wearing a face covering, regularly washing your hands and keeping a safe distance are key measures which must still be adhered to in order to reduce the spread of Coronavirus and keep Wirral well.”
Wirral’s symptom-free testing centres will now operate on the following times on Thursday (Christmas Eve)
- Floral Pavilion 9am to 3:30pm
- Greasby Library 10:30am to 3:30pm
- Eastham Library 10:30am to 3:30pm
- Birkenhead Market – Closed until further notice
Following the government’s announcement this afternoon that Wirral and the rest of Liverpool City Region will remain in Tier 2, Wirral Council leader, Cllr Janette Williamson, said, “Keeping Wirral & the other Liverpool City Region authorities under Tier 2 restrictions is vindication of the efforts that people and businesses, in partnership with authorities, in our area have been making over the last few weeks to tackle what was a worryingly high level of infection.
“However, while we will continue to enjoy the benefits that come with Tier 2 status, we cannot leave any room for complacency. Our rates are edging up once again, so we need to stay in control and keep doing the basics right to limit the potential for spreading the virus.
“We do not want to go back into Tier 3 unless absolutely necessary – not now, not in the new year. Please enjoy Christmas safely.”
There is plenty of testing capacity for anyone who is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and needs to get tested over Christmas. The symptoms only testing centres at Birkenhead, Bebington, Liscard and Heswall are open EVERY DAY over Christmas but operating at reduced hours. Please visit www.wirral.gov.uk/test for more information.