Public health leaders in Somerset are warning of rising infection rates as they offer advice on staying safe this Christmas.
Following this week’s announcement Somerset remains in Tier 2 but seven-day rates in the county have jumped from 86.8 cases per 100,000 people between November 30 and December 6, up to 123.1 in the week ending December 13.
With restrictions are being relaxed between December 23 and 27 so that three households can meet to celebrate Christmas together, the advice is to be cautious and recognise the risks.
Where possible, people are being encouraged to keep it small, keep it short, keep it local and think of the vulnerable.
In the lead up to Christmas and over the festive period, people should continue to follow the hands, space, face guidance, and self-isolate if they show symptoms of coronavirus which include a high temperature, a new continuous cough, or a loss or change to their sense of smell or taste.
Trudi Grant, Director of Public Health at Somerset County Council said: “We all wish we could have a normal Covid-free Christmas, but Somerset has seen a significant rise in Covid-19 cases in recent weeks. We would urge people to really consider the risks of meeting up indoors with relatives, especially if any of them are elderly or vulnerable. Anyone can catch Covid-19, and even if you aren’t displaying symptoms it doesn’t mean you do not have the virus.”
Councillor Clare Paul, Cabinet Member for Public Health and Wellbeing added: “These relaxations at Christmas are designed to make us feel better at the end of a tough year. However, we all have a responsibility to lessen the risks.
“The coronavirus is not going to go away over Christmas. The actions we take now can save lives; it is that important.”
The latest Somerset Covid Catch Up film, hosted by former BBC Points West producer Clinton Rogers, highlights the need to be cautious this Christmas as well as warning people not to get tested just to prove they do not have the virus.
The result is just a snapshot of that day and you could still be incubating the virus. Please and watch and share the video by clicking here: Clinton Rogers Covid Catch-up: Week 3
Public Health leaders want people to be clear that while you will be able to increase your usual bubble over Christmas to three households, you must ensure it is the same people you mix with – the groups cannot change on different days.
To minimise the risks over Christmas, it is recommended to still spread out from each other as much as possible and try to keep rooms ventilated by having windows open. Regularly washing your hands and wiping down surfaces will also help reduce the risk of infection, as will taking care not to share cutlery or utensils.
People should also be aware that the Government has changed the advice for self-isolation periods for those showing symptoms.
- People who are close contacts of confirmed cases should self-isolate for 10 days instead of 14
- People who return from countries which are not on the travel corridor list should also self-isolate for 10 days instead of 14 days
- People who test positive should continue to self-isolate for 10 days from onset of symptoms or 10 days from the point of taking a positive test if asymptomatic
A single phone number is available for anyone in Somerset who needs Coronavirus-related support from their councils. The Somerset Coronavirus Support Helpline number, 0300 790 6275, is open seven days a week from 8am to 6pm, offering a range of support – from help accessing food or medicines, to emotional and financial support, and employment, housing and business advice.