CHRISTMAS is supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year, but for many, this festive season just won’t be the same.
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People in Tier 2 and 3 areas are not allowed to mix with other households indoors, but if you’re lucky enough to live in Tier 1, you can have a small gathering – sticking to the rule of six.
While this Christmas will be one to remember due to the pandemic, experts have said there are ways to stay safe and enjoy yule tide celebrations whilst sticking to the rules.
In preparation for Christmas – there are things you can do to drive down the spread of the virus and save the holiday from being ruined by the second wave.
Here are the 12 saves of Christmas and how they can help you jingle all the way to the dinner table to enjoy your turkey without the stress of the pandemic looming.
1. Wash your hands
One of the key messages from the coronavirus pandemic has been to wash your hands more often and for longer.
Experts have suggested singing the happy birthday song while you wash your hands to ensure you give them a good clean.
LloydsPharmacy pharmacist Anshu Kaura said: “This is good practise in general, as you should always be washing your hands regularly especially after using the toilet and before eating.”
But what happens when you can’t get to a sink?
Anshu added: “The use of hand sanitiser is one of the most convenient ways to help reduce the spread of infection of the coronavirus when soap and water is not available.”
She recommended using a sanitiser with 75 per cent alcohol to help kill germs.
2. Wear a mask
Government guidance states that it is now mandatory to wear a mask on public transport or when visiting a supermarket or shop.
It is also advised that you wear a face mask or covering when social distancing is not possible.
Some people are exempt from wearing masks and these people have been encouraged to carry exemption cards.
Anshu said there are a range of face masks from reusable to disposable – the bottom line though, is that they help curb the spread of the virus.
She said: “Face coverings can help to reduce the spread of the virus by limiting the release of particles commonly emitted through talking, sneezing and heavy breathing, otherwise known as providing ‘source control.”
3. Boost immunity
Since lockdown, vitamin sales have soared as people are doing their upmost to try to keep healthy and well.
We might not get all the vitamins and nutrients we need from food so Anshu said supplements can fill in the gaps.
She said: “The NHS has recommended taking Vitamin D every day in order to keep your bones and muscles healthy in lockdown.
“This is because we may not be getting enough Vitamin D from sunlight as we have been spending more time indoors.
“Many of us are used to taking vitamin D during the autumn and winter months as we know we don’t get enough exposure to natural vitamin D from sunlight, however making this part of your current routine can be beneficial.”
4. Self isolate
Self isolation is key to avoid the spread of the virus and if you are travelling from another country you might need to self isolate on your return.
The government states that you should self isolate if you have any symptoms of the coronavirus – this includes a new persistent cough, a loss of taste and/or smell or a high temperature.
You should also isolate if you are waiting for your coronavirus tests results to come back – this is important as you may have the virus but not know it.
5. Get tested
The government states that if you have symptoms of the virus then you should get a test.
People can check whether they are infected with coronavirus via testing in NHS hospitals, regional test centres in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, Satellite centres, home test kits or mobile testing units.
- At present there are 50 places in the UK where you can get a coronavirus swab test.
- Or, you can order a free home test kit from the NHS website.
- Government antigen tests are free but there are a range of tests you can also pay for.
- There are also an additional 25 test sites that have been set up for NHS staff.
There are also tests you can pay for if you want to ensure you are Covid-free, these can cost up to £335 pounds and you can get them done in person or have them posted to you.
6. Restrict who you see
Limiting social contact with others can keep the R rate down and lowers your risk of catching the virus.
While the festive season is all about seeing family and friends it’s crucial that you adhere to the rules of the local authority you will be spending Christmas at.
In order to protect yourself and others you could create a budget as to how many people you see – and try and see people outdoors where possible.
Craig Marsh, Pharmacist & Clinical Practitioner for eveadam.co.uk said: “Another crucial ally this Christmas: video calls.
“Obviously it’s not quite the same, but it is going to help keep you and your family safe.”
7. Keep your distance
Social distancing saves lives and the government states you should try and stay two metres apart from people who are not in your household.
You can have physical contact with people you live with – or people who are in your support bubble.
In order for the hospitality sector to be able to open up the government said a distance of one metre is sufficient with other precautions such as hand washing.
8. Get cleaning
At the start of the pandemic everyone was urged to keep their surfaces clean and studies found that viruses can continue to live for days on various surfaces.
While a recent study found that the virus doesn’t spread through surfaces – it’s still important to keep your home clean to avoid nasty bugs.
Speaking to The Sun, Robin Rough, managing director of Hydrachem, which manufactures Cert, a household cleaner which the company claims can kill Covid-19 recommended cleaning your home before and after guests visit.
“It’s vital we keep everyone safe during this special time. Covd-19 can remain on surfaces for up to 28 days, so it’s crucial we clean the surfaces in our home regularly.”
Robin Rough adds: “Family and loved ones may well be coming to your home, which is wonderful, but each new visitor brings further risk, as Covid-19 can be carried on such things as banknotes, mobile phone screens and stainless steel.
“We recommend you give your home a good clean before your guests arrive, and then again after they’ve all gone.”
9. Order online
Whether it’s ordering your Christmas turkey or that new little black dress, the less we go out the less chance we have of catching the virus.
It’s also vital that if you’re in a more vulnerable group that you try and limit your outings.
Phil Day, Superintendent Pharmacist at Pharmacy2U said: “At a time when many people are restricting who they meet in person, and others are self-isolating or even shielding, more and more people are using digital or online services.
“When it comes to getting your repeat prescription medication, especially over the winter and Christmas periods, online platforms such as Pharmacy2U take away the hard work, and can save patients trips outdoors.”
Repeat prescription services such as this one allow both patients and carers to manage NHS repeat prescriptions for themselves or someone they care for.
10. Cut down on cake
While the festive season is usually a time when most people like to over-indulge on Christmas cake or eggnog, it might be worth skipping that extra mince pie.
Research has suggested that being seriously overweight increases your risk of developing a severe cases of the virus.
A previous study found that overweight Brits are ten times more likely to die from the virus than their counterparts who are at a healthy weight.
Dr Aseem Malhotra, a leading NHS consultant cardiologist, said that those with problems related to obesity are developing a more severe form of Covid-19.
11. Quit smoking
Smoking has been a divisive habit through the pandemic, but research has shown that smokers are 14 times more likely to develop the coronavirus.
Public Health England (PHE) say that puffing cigarettes can also put family members at higher risk of Covid-19 too.
Let’s face it – smoking is bad for you and damages the lungs. Covid-19 is a virus that attacks the respiratory system.
Health secretary Matt Hancock previously urged people to give up smoking in order to prevent more people becoming seriously ill with the virus.
He said it was “clear that smoking made the virus worse” and chief medical officer Chris Whitty also previously said that this was a “good time to quit smoking”.
12. Track and trace
Track and trace is imperative to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
If you’re meeting up with friends for drinks – or any one who is outside your household then it’s important that you fill out the forms or scan the QR code when you enter a restaurant or bar.
Most gyms also have these QR codes and this is so that if someone experiences symptoms and you have been in contact with them – you will be informed and then may have to isolate.
At first the app was rolled out to people on the Isle of Wight before a trial in Newham, East London.
Tips to keep you healthy this winter
Speaking to The Sun, Dr Ben Littlewood-Hillsdon, CMO of Doctorlink said there are other things you can do to make sure you stay on top form over the festive season
As we enter flu season, it is even more important that we are all monitoring our own health in case coronavirus symptoms are being masked, Dr Ben said.
“In particular, we should all be more alter to symptoms including a fever, cough and shortness of breath.
This is especially important if you are going into settings where maintaining a social distance to others may be tricky e.g. a workplace or shops.
“Also, if you do develop symptoms, it is important to remember not to take your temperature within 30 minutes of exercising or taking other medications which could impact your temperature as this could
give you a false reading.”
He added that getting enough sleep is also important when it comes to health.
“Without sufficient sleep, your body makes fewer cytokines, a type of protein that targets infection and inflammation and so effectively creates the immune response.
“Cytokines are also released during sleep, so it really is important to get enough shut eye.
“Everyone needs a different number of hours of sleep each night
to feel their best, but you should aim to have between seven and eight for your body to function optimally the next day.”
The app is now available across the country and people have been encouraged to download the app in order to help curb the spread.
The purpose of the app is to track down people who have been in contact with an infected person and alert them to self-isolate.
The app keeps track of people you have been in contact with through Bluetooth signals.
If that person tests positive for the virus you will be informed and told to self-isolate.