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Living with Covid – Key dates for changes

From Monday 21 February:

  • guidance for staff and students in most education and childcare settings to undertake twice weekly asymptomatic testing is dropped

From Thursday 24 February:

  • people who test positive for COVID-19 will no longer be legally required to self-isolate, but will still be advised to stay at home and avoid contact with others for at least five full days
  • routine contact tracing will end, so fully-vaccinated close contacts and those under 18 years old will no longer be legally required to test daily for seven days or advised to self-isolate
  • workers will no longer be required to tell their employer if they need to self-isolate
  • the £500 self-isolation support payment for people on low incomes who test positive for COVID-19 will no longer be available
  • COVID-19 provisions for increased statutory sick pay will apply for a further month

From Friday 1 April:

  • free mass symptomatic and asymptomatic COVID-19 testing for the general public will end, and will instead be targeted towards the most vulnerable
  • people with COVID-19 symptoms will be asked to exercise personal responsibility when deciding whether to stay at home – until then they are still advised to do so
  • current government guidance on COVID-19 passports will end and it will no longer recommend venues use the NHS COVID Pass

This plan is for England only. Restrictions remain in place in other parts of the UK.

Remember, everyone can catch it, anyone can spread it.

From Monday 19 July, the majority of legal restrictions relating to Covid-19 will be lifted, but the risks of Covid-19 have not gone away.

As cases rise here and across the country, we urge you to be cautious, not only for yourselves, but to protect our vulnerable residents and frontline workers.
We are advising people to think carefully about continuing to keep the all important two metre distance where possible – the UK’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) estimates that the risk of transmitting Covid-19 at 1 metre could be up to ten times higher than at 2 metres.

As another measure to protect more vulnerable members of our local communities, as well as workers in key services such as shops and pubs, we recommend continuing to wear a face covering in indoor spaces such as in shops, on public transport or in healthcare settings.

Please also continue to wash your hands thoroughly and regularly. Meet up outside rather than inside, and, if you are inside, make sure you let the fresh air in by opening windows and doors.

Finally, it’s important to:
• make sure that you get both doses of the vaccine,
• self-isolate when required to do so; and,
• use rapid tests twice a week.

So, our message is please ‘think twice, do the right thing, and don’t let your guard down’.

Thank you.

COVID 19: Are you lateral flow testing twice a week?

Lateral flow tests are extremely good at identifying when people have a lot of the virus in their system but are not displaying symptoms. To be able to see friends and family and keep them as safe as possible, testing yourself twice a week by lateral flow test is just as important as it’s always been. You can order lateral flow tests online to be delivered to your home, call 119 to have a kit home delivered through the post, or collect a kit at a local pharmacy.

For further information on lateral flow tests, including a video showing how to perform one, you can visit our website here. Just to note: now that we are in
summer, take care to store your supply of lateral flow tests somewhere cool, as the kits need to remain between 15-30 degrees Celsius.

Why fresh air is so important in controlling Covid-19

Ventilation is the process of introducing fresh air into indoor spaces while removing stale air. Letting fresh air into indoor spaces can help remove air that contains virus particles and prevent the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).

When someone with COVID-19 breathes, speaks, coughs or sneezes, they release particles (droplets and aerosols) containing the virus that causes COVID-19. While larger droplets fall quickly to the ground, smaller droplets and aerosols containing the virus can remain suspended in the air. If someone breathes in virus particles that are suspended in the air, they can become infected with COVID-19. This is known as airborne transmission.

In poorly ventilated rooms the amount of virus in the air can build up, increasing the risk of spreading COVID-19, especially if there are lots of infected people in the room. The virus can also remain in the air after an infected person has left.

Bringing fresh air into a room and removing older stale air that contains virus particles reduces the chance of spreading COVID-19. The more fresh air that is brought inside, the quicker any airborne virus will be removed from the room.

Ventilation is most important if someone in your household has COVID-19 or if you are indoors with people you do not live with.

Good ventilation has also been linked to health benefits such as better sleep and fewer sick days off from work or school.

Director of Public Health urges those with Covid-19 symptoms to book PCR test

Somerset residents are being reminded that they need to book a PCR test if they are showing symptoms of Covid-19, or have tested positive using a ‘lateral flow’ (rapid) test kit.

While the ‘lateral flow’ tests are a useful screening tool, the PCR test is considered the ‘Gold Standard’ and should be taken by anyone who is displaying symptoms of Covid-19, including a high temperature, a new, continuous cough, or a loss or change to their sense of smell.

Also, if anyone takes a ‘lateral flow’ test at home and gets a positive result, they should book a further PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test at a local Covid testing site to confirm the result.

Trudi Grant, Director of Public Health for Somerset County Council, said: “It is really important to understand the difference between the ‘lateral flow’ tests and the PCR test.

“The ‘lateral flow’ tests are only to be used by those displaying no symptoms. While they are a valuable guide, they should not be relied upon alone. Taking a PCR test will provide confirmation of the result.

“So, if you are displaying symptoms or have tested positive using a ‘lateral flow’ test, please book a PCR test. As society starts to open up again, everyone needs to play their part to keep the virus under control and this involves testing.”

You can book or request a PCR test online or by calling 119.

The ‘lateral flow’ tests for those displaying no symptoms are available via the Universal Testing Offer. Please also remember to log any positive or negative result following a ‘lateral flow’ test taken at home.

Trudi added: “The main form of defence against catching and spreading Covid-19 is still ‘hands, face, space and fresh air’ – remember to wash your hands regularly, try not to touch your face unless you have clean hands, wear a face covering if you can and keep your distance from others. And, even if vaccinated, it’s still important you take part in twice-weekly LFT testing and ensure you take a PCR test if you are symptomatic.”