In order not to completely spoil our Christmas festivities for a second year, our Government are trying very hard to keep things as normal as possible and to allow social activities to keep the hospitality industry still at work and to boost the morale of the community which has clearly began to wane.
All is not lost, however. The new slogan for Christmas is now “Test before you mix.” The Government have set a target of all adults over 18 to have had a third booster injection by the end of January. Clearly this has to be managed carefully and rolled out in stages. First priority is for those who have not had any immunisations and there are 5 million of them.
Rather than cancel all functions the new guidance is: check you are at least double immunised and where possible also a booster. So do not attend any such events if not immunised. Before you go out check yourself with a lateral flow test if you have no symptoms. If you do have some of the symptoms of Covid you should do a PCR test.
If you test negative you can be fairly confident you will not infect anyone yourself, but it does not protect you from catching Covid. To do that you must encourage everyone else to have checked with testing. Then to continue to keep a social distance, wear masks, attend to hand hygiene and allow as much ventilation as possible.
Unless something quite unexpected happens, this means the family Christmas parties can still go ahead with a high degree of safety.
Mass gatherings may put you at greater risk, as you largely do not know how well others are protected and acting to protect you.
In a warning message from Ursula Van Der Leyen she warned that Germany should use mandatory jabs because it’s possible Germany could have 6,000 more in ITU beds by Christmas. Reuters have produced a list of countries where the Omicron Variant has been identified:
Ghana no figure recorded
South Korea 5
South Africa > 100
Saudi Arabia 1 (Not updated since 26th November)
The more astute of you will wonder if these figures reflect the true situation or just the countries ability to identify the new variant. Why are there no cases reported yet from France or the USA , Russia or China.
Greece have announced a plan to fine individuals over the age of 60 £85 per month if they remain unvaccinated after 16th of January. Figures from Greece show that 90% of those dying of Covid are over 60 years old and 80% of them are not immunised.
The EU plan to start to immunise the 5-11 year-old children from the 13th December, which is a week earlier than first planned.
I support the view of SAGE that for people coming into the UK, they should be required to have a second PCR test on day 8 before release from quarantine, a single test on day 2 does mean we could well miss some cases. This is where the politicians diverge from the medics as they have to consider risks and benefits of every action.
The statistics in the last two days show we managed just over a million tests each day. Over 48 ,000 were positive today. This figure is still rising slowly . The positive rate is around 440/100k of the population.
Death figures are slightly down week on week but we still lost 171 individuals reported today.
The figures for vaccinations still show the number who for whatever reason have not been immunised are about 5 million. The good news is that almost a third of the population have had a third dose.
Getting everyone a third jab is a tall order but the NHS and its army of retired volunteers can do this. It is by far the most important action we can take. Remember to stay safe. Get a supply of lateral flow tests and do one before mixing with other households. This helps to protect your family and friends. Remember your masks when in shops or on public transport.
Please feed back to me your experiences and ideas. We can and will get through this with a combination of testing, vaccines and common sense “just test before you mix”.