In February 2021, the Government published a roadmap out of the blockade. This established a four-stage process to lift coronavirus restrictions and return to a more normal way of life.
On July 19, the government moved to the fourth stage of the roadmap and most of the restrictions have already been lifted. However, the pandemic is far from over and it is critical that we proceed cautiously to protect ourselves, others, and especially the most vulnerable in our society.
Restrictions have been lifted, but we are still in a pandemic
Our lives have changed in many ways during the pandemic and we have maintained a very difficult way of life for a long time. Many people are eager to do things that have not been possible in the past year – see friends and loved ones and enjoy favorite sports and activities with others that have not been possible since the restrictions began.
However, when we begin to do all of these things, it is important to remember that the virus is circulating. Unfortunately, it is still a real possibility that you will contract COVID-19 and feel very bad and that you can pass it on to other people, in some cases without knowing it, as not everyone shows symptoms.
Of course, the big difference between the previous waves of COVID-19 and now is that we have implemented the vaccine widely, which is estimated to have prevented around 11.8 million infections and almost 37,000 deaths in England alone. While the vaccine has weakened the link between infection and hospital admissions and deaths, an increase in cases will mean an increase in hospitalizations and deaths, putting pressure on the NHS, which is very busy meeting the needs of people awaiting other essential treatments and requiring emergency care. .
While COVID-19 vaccines are very effective, no vaccine is 100% effective, and some people, especially older adults or those with weakened immune systems, may be less protected. We all have a duty to do what we can to protect each other.
What can we do to stay safe and protect others?
There is still a lot we can do to help keep the number of coronavirus cases as low as possible. While the legal requirement for social distancing and the use of face coverings has been removed in most settings, it will still be highly beneficial to continue to use these interventions in confined and crowded spaces, especially with people you don’t know.
In some settings where people are especially vulnerable, these protective measures will remain in effect. For example, NHS Visitor Orientation and Social Work will be maintained in healthcare settings such as residences, hospitals, GP’s offices and other places where healthcare is provided to ensure that patients and staff are protected.
In our daily lives, there are steps we can take to help protect ourselves, other people, and in particular the most vulnerable in our communities:
- if you have any of the symptoms of COVID-19, self-isolate at home and request a test as soon as possible. Staying home and avoiding contact with other people when you have COVID-19 symptoms is one of the most important things you can do to avoid spreading the virus to others. You should also isolate if the NHS Test and Trace instructs you to do so. Don’t forget to plan ahead in case you need to isolate yourself and read up on the guidance and support that can help you do it.
- Receive two doses of the coronavirus vaccine. All adults in England have been offered at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Two doses offer the most protection and can help reduce the chances that you will pass the virus to others, so be sure to get your second dose as soon as it is offered. If you have not yet received a vaccine, you can book an appointment on the NHS website in a location near you, and there may also be walk-in vaccination centers advertised in your local area.
- Continue to use the LFD tests regularly. LFD testing can help determine if you are a carrier of the virus without any symptoms and testing is currently available free to all and can be ordered online or picked up at many local pharmacies. It is estimated that around 1 in 3 people with COVID-19 have no symptoms, but they can still pass the infection to other people. Many people get tested regularly to help protect themselves and their communities, and it is particularly important if you spend time with people who are more vulnerable to serious illnesses and who may not have been able to receive the COVID vaccine.
- Continue to use a face cover in crowded indoor spaces, shops, and public transportation. COVID-19 is spread through the air by droplets and aerosols that are exhaled through the nose and mouth of an infected person when they breathe, speak, cough, or sneeze. Continuing to cover your face in higher risk environments can help protect yourself and others.
- Take special care when visiting health and social care settings and wear a face shield when doing so. When you visit healthcare settings, like your GP surgery or a hospital, you are likely to come across people who are more vulnerable to serious illness if they contract COVID-19. Wearing a face cover, using available handwashing stations or sanitizers, and keeping your distance from others can help protect yourself and others.
- Take advantage of the summer to meet outdoors as much as possible.. Warm weather gives us the opportunity to meet our friends and loved ones outside, and we know that we are much safer and less at risk of contracting the virus while we are outdoors.
- When you meet indoors, keep the fresh air moving by opening windows and doors. We know that COVID-19 is spread through the air, and therefore the more fresh air you let into your home and other closed indoor spaces, the less likely you are to contract or transmit the virus.
- Keep washing your hands or use hand gel and sanitizers when you are away from home. Hands touch surfaces and can transfer viruses to your eyes, nose, or mouth. From there, viruses can enter your body and infect you. Keeping your hands clean is particularly important before and after using public transportation, when you’ve been indoors, and when you’re with people who are more vulnerable to serious illness if they become infected with COVID-19. Good hand and respiratory hygiene – washing hands, covering coughs and sneezes, and throwing away used tissues in the trash – helps stop the spread of other illnesses like colds, flu, and bed bugs, too.
What to expect during the summer
There is much to be optimistic about when we return to many of the activities that have not been possible so far. The extraordinary efforts we have all made to get to this point on the roadmap are reason to be proud, and the continued success of the vaccination program shows what we can achieve when we work together toward the common goal of keeping our communities safe. .
Now that most of the restrictions have been lifted and people are mixing at a higher level than since the beginning of the pandemic, more people will contract and transmit the virus, so it is right that we think carefully about how we can continue to reduce these risks. . and protect those around us. Continue with the steps described in the coronavirus guide and in this blog we will help protect you, our friends and loved ones, our colleagues, communities and especially those who remain vulnerable to the virus.
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