COVID rates are high and rising
Published: 30 November 2021
Stay protected this winter
Winter is here and unfortunately, COVID hasn't gone away. Rates across Surrey are still high. With the Omicron variant of the virus, very much among us. So it's still important that we all do what we can to help prevent the spread of COVID so we can better protect ourselves, our loved ones and those who are most vulnerable in our communities.
Some important changes
The Government has confirmed that England will move to Plan B following the rapid spread of the Omicron variant in the UK. These new measures include:
- Face coverings are now a legal requirement in shops, on public transport and in other settings such as banks, post offices, theatres and hairdressers
- Face coverings should be worn in communal areas in all educational settings by pupils, staff, visitors, and students in year 7 and above, unless they are exempt or have a reasonable excuse. In primary schools, face coverings should be worn by staff and visitors in communal areas
- Office workers who can work from home should do so. If you need to continue to go into work, please test regularly using rapid lateral flow tests, to manage your own risk and the risk to others
- All travellers entering the UK must take a PCR test within 48 hours, and self-isolate until they have received a negative test result
- All adults aged 18 and over will be required by law to have an NHS COVID Pass to show their vaccination and testing status when entering certain venues and events. For more information on the NHS COVID Pass, visit the NHS COVID Pass webpage
From Tuesday 14 December, anyone aged five and over, regardless of being fully vaccinated, who has been identified as a contact of someone with COVID-19 – whether Omicron or not – should take an NHS rapid lateral flow test every day for seven days to help slow the spread of COVID-19. This change replaces the need to isolate if you come into contact with Omicron.
From 11 January 2022, people who have no symptoms and test positive on a lateral flow device will be required to self-isolate immediately and do not need to take a confirmatory PCR test. This is a temporary change to testing guidance due to very high rates of COVID-19 in the community.
Lateral flow results are for people who do not have COVID-19 symptoms and this change in guidance is only for people who do not have symptoms. If you have COVID-19 symptoms you should still stay at home and self-isolate and book a PCR test as soon as possible, even if you have had a negative lateral flow result. These rules have not changed.
For further information on the change to guidelines visit - Confirmatory PCR tests to be temporarily suspended for positive lateral flow test results - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
Changes to self-isolation for those who have tested positive
From Monday 17 January, the self-isolation advice for people with COVID-19 will change. People self-isolating with COVID-19 will have the option to reduce their isolation period after five full days if they test negative on both day five and day six and do not have a temperature. The first test must be taken no earlier than day 5 of the self-isolation period, and the second must be taken the following day. If an individual is positive on day 5, then a negative test is required on day 6 and day 7 to release from isolation.
For more information on this change to self-isolation, visit the GOV.UK Stay at home: guidance for households with possible or confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19) infection webpage.
Play your part, get jabbed
Getting vaccinated and going for your COVID-19 booster jab when you are invited, is one of the single most effective things we can do to help stop the spread of COVID, especially in light of the Omicron variant, and we know that it works. Between January and September this year (2021), the risk of dying from COVID was 32 times greater in people who were unvaccinated, than people who were.
Don't forget your flu jab this winter, as you may also be eligible to have both jabs at the same time.
More information can be found in our Boosting your immunity this winter Surrey Matters article.
Please keep practising the seven key safety measures, remember to:
- Let the fresh air in, or meet outside – opening your windows for just 10 minutes can make a difference to the concentration of COVID particles in a room
- Wear a face covering – it's now mandatory to wear one in shops and on public transport, do the right thing
- Test regularly – especially if you are heading out to see people who are at higher risk of becoming seriously ill if they caught COVID. Over the festive period, this might mean testing every day
- Stay at home if you are unwell
- Wash your hands
- Continue to use the COVID-19 app – the app can be very useful as we all start going to Christmas events, markets and parties.
- Get your COVID-19 vaccine, booster and flu jab – grab the jabs and get protected
Vaccination, booster updates
- 12 – 15-year-olds are already being offered their first dose of the vaccine – if your child missed the chance get vaccinated at school you can simply walk-in to Surrey's mass vaccination site at Sandown Park
- 16 and 17-year-olds can now get their second dose of the vaccine
- Anyone aged 18 or over should get their COVID-19 booster jab – you can book your appointment to have your booster after two months (61 days) of getting your second jab and you'll be offered appointment dates from three months after the date of your second dose.
Keep Surrey safe
The emergence of the Omicron variant means we all really need to be cautious, be considerate and think about the risks we take daily – we all want to keep our friends and families safe, but this can only happen if we all work together and play our part to prevent the spread of the virus and keep each other safe.
To read the full changes to COVID-19 measures following the newly identified Omicron virus, visit the GOV.UK Coronavirus web pages.
For any information on the COVID-19 vaccine programme or booster, head to our COVID Vaccine web pages.
To keep an eye on the COVID rates where you are, visit the our Coronavirus figures and statistics webpage.
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