COVID-19 hasn’t gone away and in recent weeks there has been an increase in infections in the South West says Dominic Mellon, Deputy Director, UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) South West
It’s been a number of months since the easing of COVID-19 restrictions and we are all enjoying some normality after a challenging two years which impacted all corners of life. As we now look forward to life without restrictions and head into the social summer holiday period, we must keep in mind that the virus has not gone away.
In fact, in recent weeks we have seen a rise in cases in the South West with a shift in the dominant strain from the Omicron BA.2 variant. The latest data indicates that Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 now account for more than half of rising COVID-19 cases in the UK and are driving the recent increase in infections.
We’ve learned so much in the last two years but as we move to living with COVID-19 on a long-term basis, every one of us needs to remain vigilant, take precautions, and ensure that we’re up to date with our COVID-19 vaccinations. We need to continue to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe and vaccination is the best form of defence we have. It’s never too late to get vaccinated.
Remember we can all play our part – stay at home if you have any respiratory symptoms or a fever and limit contact with others until you are feeling better, particularly if they are likely to be at greater risk if they contract COVID-19.
Face coverings and hand washing still remain important in reducing transmission, consider wearing a face covering in crowded, enclosed spaces and washing your hands thoroughly and often, especially before and after getting on public transport or getting in from work, shops or the pub.
Meeting others outside is much safer than indoors as the fresh air helps to blow the COVID-19 particles away. So, make the most of the warm weather over the summer and meet family and friends outside. Or if you meet indoors, let the fresh air in by opening doors and windows.
We also know a large number of people will be coming to visit our region again this summer, enjoying the local festivals and supporting local businesses that have been affected by the pandemic.
We all need to do our best to support each other and keep ourselves and those visitors safe.
Let’s enjoy the summer and our regained freedoms but keep in mind that COVID-19 hasn’t gone on holiday and we all need to do our bit to live safely.
Kheelna Bavalia, Medical Director for NHS England and NHS Improvement in the South West, adds: “Across the South West people have tirelessly played their part to keep their family, friends, work colleagues and themselves protected and free from Covid.
“With the indicated rise in Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 we must continue to be vigilant and take those important steps that will keep ourselves well and reduce the spread of the virus to others.”
For more information on steps you can take to reduce the risk of catching and spreading COVID-19, visit https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus
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