Infection rates remain high across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough and earlier this week the Government agreed to extend the Enhanced Response Area status until Christmas Eve because of low vaccination rates in some areas, and the extreme pressure that NHS services are under.
The world is still waiting for clear scientific evidence about how existing vaccines will protect against the new Omicron variant – or whether it is more severe than current strains – however, it is known that the new variant appears to spread from person to person more quickly.
This has led to the Government announcing a move to ‘Plan B’ to help stop the spread of the virus.
This includes an extension of where people should wear face coverings from Friday last week (December 10) – becoming mandatory in places such as, cinemas and theatres as well as in shops and on public transport, a return to working from home where ever possible from Monday this week, (December 13), and NHS covid passes (or a negative LFT) needed for entry into nightclubs or large venues from Wednesday, (December 15).
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Peterborough City Council’s Leader, Councillor Wayne Fitzgerald, said: “Christmas is a special time for family, catching up with friends and having fun. However, with the rapid spread of the Omicron variant, we all need to be sensible and to follow the three simple things to keep Christmas and New Year both safe and prosperous for everyone.
“In particular, we need to think about those older and vulnerable family members who are at a greater risk of serious illness. So please when attending events and meeting up with family and friends this Christmas, make sure you do the three simple things of Vaccinate, Test and Protect. This way we can help prevent the spread of the virus and enjoy the festive season.”
Director for Public Health for Peterborough and Cambridgeshire, Jyoti Atri, added: “We want everyone to enjoy themselves over the Christmas period as it’s a great time to unwind. But the rapid spread of Omicron, its unknown severity in terms of illness and how well our vaccines will protect against it, means that we all need to make slight changes to our normal Christmas traditions. This is to make sure the only thing you’re giving this year is presents, rather than Covid.”
“In the new year, we need our hospitals and doctors’ surgeries to have capacity to treat everyone, we want our schools to be open for all our children, and we need staff well and available to protect vulnerable adults and children, grit the roads and collect the rubbish. This means we all need to do our bit to make sure our celebrations don’t ruin the new year.”
The ‘Three Simple Things’ people can do over the festive period are to:
• Vaccinate - Get jabs when offered, whether this be Covid vaccines, boosters or flu
• Test - Take a rapid test before meeting up with others. If it’s positive, take a PCR test and isolate while you wait, as well as if the PCR test is positive.
• Protect - Meet others in well ventilated spaces, practice good hygiene like washing your hands, work from home where possible and always wear a face covering according to the government rules.
Other practical actions people can take which will help prevent local services becoming overwhelmed and the holidays being ruined include planning smaller Christmas and New Year’s parties, meeting outside where possible (for example, taking a festive walk), and keeping windows open.
Anyone with symptoms, or who gets a positive result on their rapid test, should get a PCR test immediately and isolate while they wait for the result. To get a PCR test, visit: https://www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test.
Information on local Covid vaccine walk-in centres can be found at: https://www.thevaccinators.co.uk/.
The latest government guidance can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/prime-minister-sets-out-new-measures-as-omicron-variant-identified-in-uk-27-november-2021.