Cases of Covid-19 have continued falling steadily in Halton this week as the borough continues to make progress against the virus.

In the week up to February 16, Halton’s infection rate fell 28% to 164.6 new cases per 100,000 residents.

This was the lowest level of cases in the borough for two months and is a promising sign with schools expected to reopen in less than three weeks.

If cases keep falling at the same rate, Halton’s infection rate could be around 61 cases per 100,000 people by the time schools reopen. This would be the borough’s lowest infection rate since early September.

However, despite the fall in new infections the same week saw a rise in the number of people dying of Covid-19 in the borough.

The week up to February 16 saw 13 deaths from the virus, compared to just five in the previous week.

The reason for this increase is not clear, with pressure on local hospitals also easing significantly over the past week. Warrington Hospital saw the number of Covid-positive patients on its wards fall by a fifth while Whiston Hospital has also seen patient numbers fall.

This fall in patient numbers, combined with the fall in infections generally, should mean that deaths decrease again over the coming weeks.

Another positive sign is the number of vaccinations that have already been administered in Halton.

By last Sunday, almost 31,000 people in the borough had received their first does of the Covid vaccine – around a quarter of Halton’s population.

The rapid roll-out of the vaccine should help drive down cases, hospital admissions and deaths and open the way to an end of lockdown in the near future.