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Coronavirus outbreak at Knowsley office after staff arranged festive staff singalong – Liverpool Echo

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An office where workers organised a ‘festive singalong’ was struck with an outbreak of coronavirus after 30 people tested positive.

The illegal gathering, in Knowsley, has spurred , Knowsley’s Director of Public Health to warn all residents in the borough to take coronavirus more seriously.

According to Knowsley Council, current rates of COVID-19 in the borough stand at 1,348 per 100,000 population and are continuing to rise – one of the highest rates in the whole of the UK.

Dr Sarah McNulty, Knowsley’s Director of Public Health, said while many people are doing everything they can to prevent the transmission of the virus in the area, “it is clear” that others need to treat the situation much more seriously.

This comes after staff in one workplace, who were found to be socialising outside of the office and arranged “a festive singalong,” had an outbreak of the virus which saw 30 people become infected.

In a lengthy statement, Dr Sarah McNulty said: “We are currently seeing alarmingly high rates of infection here in Knowsley and this is a huge concern.

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“COVID-19 is a potentially lethal illness which has already killed more than 2800 people in the Liverpool City Region of which 254 were from Knowsley.

“While many people are doing everything they can to prevent the transmission of the virus, it is clear that others need to treat the situation much more seriously.

“We currently think the R number in Knowsley could be as high as 2.4. That means that COVID-19 is widespread in our community.

“Every time a resident leaves the house, they are increasing their chances of catching the virus or indeed passing it on. People should be staying at home as much as possible and following the rules rigidly. Sadly, from looking at our rates, this clearly can’t be happening across the board.

“We are seeing examples of people blatantly breaking the rules. In one workplace we came across, staff had been socialising outside of the office and even arranged a festive singalong.

“Sure enough, there was an outbreak in that workplace and almost 30 people became infected in a very short space of time.

“Undoubtedly, those people then passed the virus on to their own families and friends, perhaps including vulnerable people. Was the ‘fun’ all really worth it?

“Whilst I am not suggesting that such behaviour us completely commonplace, it is a very clear indicator that not everyone is taking this situation as seriously as they should.”

Dr Sarah McNulty also said residents have relaxed “a bit too much,” with people getting a little bit too close in a queue in the supermarket, putting their mask under their nose, or mixing with people who aren’t in their own household.

She said even those people “just nipping out to the shops to pick up a few things a few times week” are increasing the risk to themselves and others.

Dr Sarah McNulty said: “Every time one person does this, it has an impact and our rates will only go in one direction. We all have to act to turn this around – if we don’t take personal responsibility, the situation is going to get even worse.

“It’s also important that you and others in your household or support bubble self-isolate if you display any of the symptoms – high temperature, new/persistent cough, or a loss of taste or smell. Until you receive a negative result, you and those close to you could be passing on the virus to others.

“We really are at a crucial point in this crisis and we need everyone to take this seriously – now.

“Please stop and think about your own individual actions and those actions of other members of your household.

“Make sure you are sticking to the rules, staying at home as much as possible – people need not only to limiting their own risk but also help to save the lives of many others who are at major risk from this terrible virus.”

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The Liverpool City Region joined the rest of the England this month in a new national lockdown, with new rules similar to the lockdown we were placed into back in March with schools closed and most people required to work from home.

In the past week alone, there has been a 50% rise in Covid-19 hospital admissions in Merseyside.

The ECHO recently reported that Knowsley Council were asking parents and carers to consider whether it is “absolutely essential” for their children to attend school amid rising rates of infection and demand for school places being “significantly higher” than during the first national lockdown.