As the Omicron variant spreads.
Just like that, it feels like we're in the throes of Coronavirus again.
With the first Omicron death in the UK recorded last night, figures showing as many as 4,713 Omicron cases in the UK, and prime minister Boris Johnson introducing new precautionary measures such as working from home and compulsory mask-wearing in public places, you're not alone if you're worried about how this new Covid outbreak might affect your Christmas.
So, we've asked two GP's for their top tips for swerving the virus and gathering safely - without putting your loved ones at risk - this festive season. We get it - the thought of missing Christmas again is rather bleak, but the last thing you'd want to do is spread Coronavirus further.
5 tips for enjoying a Covid-free Christmas
As Doctor Don Grant, clinical lead at The Independent Pharmacy explains, Covid-19 is suddenly at the forefront of people's minds right now. "The new Omicron variant is spreading across the UK fast, which is a concern for those looking to spend Christmas with their loved ones."
This is especially worrying after so many had to miss Christmas at home due to travel restrictions last year, but Grant shares that he actually reckons avoiding the virus is quite simple.
1. Get vaccinated
Simple, but effective, there's a reason the government is advising more regular testing now cases of the virus are rising.
Giulia Guerrini, lead pharmacist at Medino Pharmacy, encourages you to try and book yours as soon as you can.
2. Practice precaution
In other words, wash your hands regularly, wear face masks or coverings in public spaces, and continue to be vigilant with social distancing, advises the GP.
3. Test, test, test
Now that we have the means to, why wouldn't you? It'll at least give you peace of mind that the people you are spending time with aren't infectious and won't put you at a higher risk of falling ill.
“If you’re planning to attend a Christmas party, have Christmas dinner with others or simply spend an extended period of time indoors with people outside of your household, it’s wise to take a lateral flow test before meeting up," advises Grant. "This is a simple step you can take to help keep your loved ones safe and ensure you reduce the chances of spreading the Omicron variant of COVID-19."
4. Minimise events before seeing those who are high-risk
Sounds obvious, but can significantly reduce your chances of getting the virus, so shouldn't be ignored, shares Grant.
“If you do intend on mixing with those who are more at risk, it’s sensible to pay extra attention to social distancing and practice good hygiene prior to meeting up to ensure you are not contagious. I'd say it's best to minimise all social gatherings up to five days before you plan on meeting with those in high-risk categories, as well as testing before you meet them."
5. Get your booster jab
Staying safe will also be made possible through the booster vaccination program. "All those who can should try and get their booster jab before the Christmas period to help reduce the spread of the Omicron variant," stresses Grant.
Guerrini agrees, adding that if you're eligible, you should think of the booster as a third vaccine, rather than a booster - "your body needs the third dose to help fight the virus," he stresses.
If you're worried about the Covid vaccine and fertility, the Covid vaccine and blood clots, or even how soon after your Covid vaccine you can exercise, our hand guides will help. We've also consulted doctors on how long the vaccine side effects last and how to avoid vaccine misinformation, too.
"If we all take responsibility for the health of ourselves and our loved ones by getting vaccinated, testing regularly, monitoring symptoms, and isolating if we are unwell then we’ll have the best chance of enjoying a safe Christmas," shares the GP.
Now, for your ultimate Christmas survival guide - ft. 15 hangover tips from the best in the business - look no further.
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Ally Head is Marie Claire UK's Health, Sustainability, and Relationships Editor, eight-time marathoner, and Boston Qualifying runner. Day-to-day, she works across site strategy, features, and e-commerce, reporting on the latest health updates, writing the must-read health and wellness content, and rounding up the genuinely sustainable and squat-proof gym leggings worth *adding to basket*. She regularly hosts panels and presents for things like the MC Sustainability Awards, has an Optimum Nutrition qualification, and saw nine million total impressions on the January 2023 Wellness Issue she oversaw, with health page views up 98% year on year, too. Follow Ally on Instagram for more or get in touch.
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