Men aged between 20 and 39 have been “reluctant” to get a covid test according to Wirral Council’s public health chief.

Julie Webster, the borough’s director of public health, said Wirral’s testing effort is increasingly being directed at workplaces and homes, with outreach facilities for areas with high infection rates.

Ms Webster also gave key information from an important discussion with the council’s engagement and communications team.

She said: “Just this morning the team were reporting to me about the insight work that they’ve done with men aged 20-39, who we have found have been reluctant to come forward for testing.

“That insight is going to help us to shape the offer that we provide particularly for men in those age groups.”

In addition to the numbers from the communications team, Ms Webster shared lots of encouraging news on the state of the pandemic in Wirral.

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She said it was “really good” that the borough’s rate is now below 100 per 100,000 and added that most of the cases which remain are in the ‘working age’ group, between 20 and 59 years of age.

Another crucial measure, the positivity rate - that is, the percentage of tests which come back as positive - was at a very low 3.7%.

That is huge progress on the rate of 20.3% recorded at the January 8 peak.

Since then, the rate has fallen week on week, falling to 5.0% in the previous figure which covered the week up to February 19.

So 3.7% is a welcome number, but it is still above the rate of 2.3% recorded at the end of the second national lockdown in early December.

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There was also progress on hospitalisations.

At Wirral’s peak, on January 22, there were 279 people in its hospitals with the virus, on March 1 there were just 29.

Despite the numbers, Ms Webster wanted people to remain cautious, saying covid case numbers are still high compared to where we need them to be.

The director of public health said she would like them to be down to 25 per 100,000, compared to the current figure of 84 per 100,000, before lockdown measures are reduced.

Ms Webster was clear that it will not be a “straight line” of progress in the fight against the virus from now until June 21, the earliest point at which all legal restrictions can be lifted.

She noted that covid has not gone away despite the vaccine rollout.

Responding to the covid update, Labour councillor Sam Frost asked if the council is reaching out to BAME (black and minority ethnic) communities to debunk myths about the vaccine and how is it doing so?

Ms Webster said primary care networks and the Wirral Multicultural Organisation (WMO) had worked on this and people were using every single avenue to help get the vaccine out across all communities.

Conservative councillor Mike Collins spoke of his experience of taking his father to the vaccination centre at Woodchurch Leisure Centre and wanted to congratulate everyone involved on how smoothly the operation ran.