Somerset’s Director of Public Health urges caution after new Covid measures announced

Trudi Grant, Director of Public Health for Somerset, warns Somerset residents that Covid is not over yet with cases remaining high in Somerset after central government lifted legal restrictions this week.

On Monday (21st), the Prime Minister gave a statement to Parliament on living with Covid-19 and has published the government’s plan for removing the remaining legal restrictions while protecting the most vulnerable to Covid-19.

On Thursday (24th), the legal requirement to self-isolate was removed in England and replaced with guidance for living safely with the virus.  

With case numbers across Somerset remaining high, Covid-19 has certainly not gone away, and it is vital that individuals take steps to help prevent transmission of the virus, especially to the most vulnerable in our communities. 

Somerset’s Director of Public Health, Professor Trudi Grant talks about what these measures mean for Somerset residents: 

“I want to thank everyone who has stepped up to support their community since the start of the pandemic, but it is not over yet. As many legally mandated restrictions are being lifted, our first lines of defence (like vaccination) become even more vital.  

“The Office for National Statistics has said this week, that around one in every 25 people have Covid-19, and in Somerset, we know that our case rates are still high. We must continue to do all we can to protect ourselves and those around us.

“We should continue to be respectful of other people’s concerns and personal situations, and the public health advice is that anyone who tests positive for coronavirus, or who shows symptoms of having it, including a high temperature or cough, should stay at homeand avoid contactwith others. The same can be said for any other infectious illness, such a flu, or vomiting and diarrhoea.

“In the past, many of us might have gone to work or school if we had cold-like symptoms for example. But staying at home, whether with a tummy bug, cold or Covid, is something many of us have become used to throughout the pandemic, and it’s been shown to be effective at limiting the spread of infectious disease. We need to make this the new normal.

“Additionally, we will continue to support the most vulnerable in our societies and support the Government roll out of a fourth, booster jab in the Spring for those aged 75 and over, older care home residents, and those over 12 who are immuno-suppressed. 

“Following the Prime Minister’s announcement, we will continue our work to understand the local impact of these changes, ensuring the health and wellbeing of Somerset residents is at the forefront of what we do.” 

Alongside changes to the legal requirement to self-isolate, the Prime Minister announced that free testing in England will come to an end on 31 March, with most people having to pay for PCR and lateral flow tests from 1 April if needed. In the meantime, free Lateral Flow Tests are still available to order online or by phoning 119. You can order one pack of 7 tests, every 3 days.

NHS staff will continue to access their LFD tests online and report the results, and there are no changes to infection, prevention, and control requirements in healthcare settings. So, if you’re planning to attend a healthcare setting, you will still need to wear a face covering.

Whilst there is no longer a legal requirement for people with Covid-19 to self-isolate, if you have any of the main symptoms or a positive test result, the public health advice is to stay at home and avoid contact with other people.

The main symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) are:

  • a high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)
  • a new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or 3 or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual)
  • a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste – this means you’ve noticed you cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal

To read the full guidance, visit COVID-19 Response: Living with COVID-19 – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk),

Staying at home and avoiding contact with other people can be difficult, frustrating and lonely for some people. Remember to take care of your mind as well as your body and get support if you need it. Every Mind Matters provides simple tips and advice to take better care of your mental health.

ENDS

Notes to editors

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