Let's show sense and courtesy
July has seen the lifting of Covid-19 legal restrictions and the reopening of facilities - but also cases at an all-time high. Professor Debbie Stark, PHE South West Regional Director and NHS Regional Director of Public Health for the South West, writes for the Voice on how we can help keep ourselves and others safe
CASES are increasing in the South West and they are expected to rise further over the coming weeks, especially as we mix more.
Rising cases remain a problem because, although deaths and hospitalisations are lower thanks to the success of the vaccination programme, Covid-19 is a virus you really do not want to catch. It can still make you very sick, and many people suffering from long Covid are experiencing ill effects weeks and months after they tested positive.
The risks of falling ill are especially great for those who have not yet had both doses of the vaccine. In the South West 65% of people have had both doses, but this means 35% are not fully protected and are still at risk. We also know that no vaccine is 100% effective.
Vulnerable groups are also at higher risk of more serious illness if they catch Covid and not everyone in this group will have been vaccinated.
Getting both jabs and completing your vaccination course is the only way to ensure strong protection against the virus, so it remains vital people keep coming forward for the vaccine. The more protection we have, the more we minimise the impact of a rise in cases this summer.
We know the virus is present, we know it can make us very sick, we also know that 1 in 3 of us with Covid won’t display any symptoms. So if we’re in crowded spaces or on public transport, do wear a mask and try to keep a distance, especially whilst rates are going up. Also remember to keep washing your hands thoroughly and more often than usual, especially before and after getting on public transport or getting in from work, shops or the pub etc.
Meet outside where you can and if meeting inside, make sure the space is well ventilated.
Importantly, we will still have a responsibility to look out for one another as we have done over the past 16 months and show courtesy to one another.
If you are feeling unwell, don’t risk passing on the virus and making others sick - self-isolate and get a test. We should still also be taking up the offer of twice weekly LFD tests.
If others around us are wearing a mask, let us be respectful and keep a distance - they may be feeling uneasy about the reopening or be conscious they may be protecting others by wearing one. If we know we are meeting up with friends and family, minimise the risk of passing on the virus by meeting outside as much as possible.
By thinking of others, recognising these sensitivities and showing respect, we can make this transition safer for everyone.