As Christmas approached in 2020, it was not a Dickensian spirit however the spectre of Covid that haunted households up and down the UK.
With instances hovering, government-approved plans to permit three households to combine for 5 days in England had been scrapped inside weeks of being made, whereas scientists urged households to attach over Zoom or host drinks on the pavement somewhat than assembly for a hug.
“There isn’t a level having a really merry Christmas after which burying pals and relations in January and February,” Gabriel Scally, a visiting professor of public well being on the College of Bristol, mentioned on the time.
Twelve months on, there was little phrase from the UK authorities about find out how to safely have fun Christmas 2021. However scientists say warning stays essential.
“Charges of transmission are nonetheless very excessive, numbers of Covid weekly deaths proceed at round 1,000, the NHS is described by these working it as ‘hitting breaking level’ and ‘unsustainable’, with Covid instances taking over hospital beds with the potential to tip the NHS into disaster. And we haven’t but hit winter,” mentioned Prof Susan Michie of College School London, a member of the federal government’s Covid-19 behavioural science crew and the Unbiased Sage group of consultants.
Michie added the present state of affairs was unstable and will change shortly – for higher or worse.
“In these circumstances, my recommendation could be to delay planning Christmas so long as doable,” she mentioned.
Nevertheless, for these already tackling yuletide logistics, consultants say there are measures that needs to be taken to cut back the dangers.
“These embrace all these we thought-about final yr – fascinated about the vulnerability of these you might be visiting; maximising the prospect that you’re not infectious [for example] by testing, proscribing contact beforehand; and making indoor areas as secure as doable when it comes to air flow, limiting numbers and crowding, and utilizing sanitiser and face masks,” mentioned Michie. “The Delta variant is extremely contagious, with many individuals now catching it regardless of double vaccination and cautious behaviour.”
In line with the most recent information, greater than 88% of individuals aged 12 years and over within the UK have acquired at the very least one Covid jab, with many now eligible for a booster. Nevertheless, a considerable quantity stay unvaccinated.
“Get vaccinated you probably have nonetheless not accomplished so, and get boosted in case you are eligible,” mentioned John Edmunds, a professor of infectious illness epidemiology on the London Faculty of Hygiene & Tropical Drugs who sits on the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage).
Dr Elise Paul, of the Institute of Epidemiology and Well being at UCL, agreed. “Getting the vaccine in addition to a booster in case you are referred to as is an important factor you are able to do to guard family members and those that are extra weak than you,” she mentioned.
However, Paul added, different measures stay vital.
“I might say that though the first good thing about the vaccine is that it enormously reduces the probability of extreme sickness and loss of life, even those that have been absolutely vaccinated can nonetheless fall sick from and due to this fact transmit the virus,” she mentioned. “The very best recommendation I can provide is to proceed to take really useful precautions: lateral movement checks, correct air flow, thorough and frequent hand washing or sanitising. These are particularly vital when household and pals who could also be extra weak are current.”
Edmunds additionally backed using testing.
“Use a lateral movement take a look at earlier than all dangerous occasions, corresponding to work events or visiting aged kinfolk,” he mentioned. “Solely attend in case you are unfavourable.”
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