Halton suffered its deadliest week of the pandemic since April this week as 20 people died of Covid-19.
Despite cases of the virus falling by a third in the week up to January 26, deaths in the borough doubled in the same period.
The total is Halton’s highest weekly death toll since the peak of the first wave in mid-April last year and means 45 people in the borough have died of Covid-19 since the start of the year.
This is three times the number of deaths recorded in the whole of December and follows the sharp rise in cases since Christmas.
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The continued fall in case numbers has provided some hope for Halton, with the borough’s infection rate reaching 489 cases per 100,000 people on January 26, down from a peak of 1,307 cases per 100,000 people nearly three weeks earlier.
Hospital admissions figures have also started to fall, with both Warrington and Whiston hospitals now admitting fewer Covid-19 patients than they were last week.
However, the total number of Covid-19 patients in hospital is still the highest it has been throughout the whole pandemic and more people are on ventilators than ever before.
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Local NHS services will expect those numbers to begin to fall next week as patients recover, but until that happens they will remain under severe pressure and further deaths are almost certain.
Health chiefs will also be concerned that there may be further outbreaks in workplaces, given the high number of people in the borough who are unable to work from home.
This would limit how far Halton’s infection rate is able to fall and could store up problems for the gradual reopening of the economy now expected to begin in March.