Covid: Reduce contacts to avoid Omicron in run-up to Christmas, warns chief medical adviser

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Samantha Haynes

By Samantha Haynes

Published: 12/12/2021

- 15:32

Dr Susan Hopkins advises the public to take action themselves to prevent transmission.

People should keep their social contacts to a minimum if they want to avoid catching Covid-19 and missing out on Christmas with their family, a senior adviser has said.

Dr Susan Hopkins, chief medical adviser for the UK Health Security Agency, said people need to take action themselves to prevent transmission.

Having less contact with other people, taking lateral flow tests before meeting anyone, working from home, wearing a face covering, keeping areas well ventilated, getting vaccinated and having the booster jab are all measures people can take, she said.

Dr Hopkins was asked if people should lie low in the next week or two if they want to avoid Omicron and spend Christmas with their families.

She told Times Radio: “We’ve spent two years, almost two years now living with this virus. We know how it transmits. It transmits when we’re with other people.

“And therefore when we are coming up to a time where we will have engagements that we want to make, family that we want to see, then ensuring that we have less contacts before those is important so that we don’t transmit to others.”

Asked if she would advise people to avoid going out if they want to see family members at Christmas, Dr Hopkins said: “People know how transmission is prevented. I know how transmission is prevented. It’s prevented by reducing your social contacts.

“But sometimes you need to see your friends and you need to see your work colleagues or you need to go to that Christmas party for your mental health and wellbeing.

“If you’re going to do that, then take a lateral flow, go and get your vaccine, get boosted as soon as possible.

“Those are actions that you can take. If you want to make sure that you are not going to get infected, then keep your contacts to a minimum.”

Asked what her advice is to people going to Christmas parties, she said it will be about “individual decision making” and what people need to do for their own mental health wellbeing.

“Taking lateral flows before you go to these events will help reduce transmission.

“And it will be for individuals to make those decisions in the coming days to decide how they want to spend their time and how they want to reduce transmission amongst their community.

“I think it’s really important we all take the actions we can in order to enable everything possible to spend Christmas with our families,” she said.

Dr Hopkins said further discussions and decisions would be made in Government this week about how to address the spread of Omicron.

She added: “What we need to do is for people to take actions themselves to prevent transmission.

“That’s by basically doing a lateral flow test before you meet people, working from home if you can, wear face coverings, keep your areas well ventilated, and go for the vaccination if you haven’t had it already, and go for the booster as soon as you’re called.

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