Caring in the time of Coronavirus
On Monday 22nd February 2021, the Prime Minister announced a 4 step ‘roadmap’ out of Coronavirus restrictions.
On Monday 5th July, the Prime Minister announced that we would move to Step 4 on 19th July 2021. The Government also published COVID-19 Response: Summer 2021.
As new Government guidance reminds us although most restrictions will be lifted at step 4, Coronavirus will be a feature of our lives for the foreseeable future, so we need to learn to live with it and manage the risk to ourselves and others. Even though many people have been vaccinated, it is still possible to catch and spread Coronavirus, even if you are fully vaccinated.
Most legal restrictions to control Coronavirus will be lifted at step 4. For example:
- You do not need to stay 2 metres apart from people you do not live with. There are also no limits on the number of people you can meet;
- However, in order to minimise risk at a time of high prevalence, you should limit the close contact you have with those you do not usually live with, and increase close contact gradually. This includes minimising the number, proximity and duration of social contacts;
- You should meet outdoors where possible and let fresh air into homes or other enclosed spaces;
- The Government is no longer instructing people to work from home if they can. However, the Government expects and recommends a gradual return over the summer; and
- The requirement to wear face coverings in law has been lifted. However, the Government expects and recommends that people wear face coverings in crowded areas such as public transport.
It is important that we all use personal judgement to manage our own risk. All of us can play our part by exercising common sense and considering the risks. While no situation is risk-free, there are actions we can take to protect ourselves and others around us.
Around 1 in 3 people with Coronavirus do not have any symptoms. This means they could be spreading the virus without knowing it. In general, the risk of catching or passing on Coronavirus is higher:
- in crowded spaces, where there are more people who might be infectious
- in enclosed indoor spaces where there is limited fresh air
Testing twice a week increases the chances of detecting Coronavirus when a person is infectious, helping to make sure they don’t spread Coronavirus. Rapid lateral flow testing is available for free to anybody. You can get tests from pharmacies or online.
The test involves rubbing a long cotton bud (swab) over your tonsils (or where they would have been) and inside your nose. The tests can give you a result in 30 minutes. They use a device similar to a pregnancy test and do not need to be sent to a lab.
You can do a rapid test at home or at one of these community pharmacies.
If you want to take the tests at home, you can order coronavirus rapid lateral flow tests online.
If you cannot order online, call 119. Lines are open 7am to 11pm and calls are free.
Anyone in your household can use the tests. You do not need to order one pack for each person.
If you’re ordering for another household, such as the person that you are caring for, you should:
- do it separately from your household order
- use their details, including their email address if they have one
If you do tests at home, you’ll need to report your results online or on the phone, by calling the phone number in your test kit’s instructions.
You should report the result every time you use a rapid lateral flow test kit and ideally as soon as possible after you get the result. You cannot report a result after more than 24 hours.
You can only report one result at a time.
If your lateral flow test result is positive, everyone in the household must self-isolate immediately.
The person who tests positive must get a PCR test to confirm the result (a PCR test is a different type of Coronavirus test). You can order a PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test kit to be sent to your home or book an appointment at a walk-in or drive-through test site on the Government website.
If you develop Coronavirus symptoms, self-isolate immediately and get a PCR test, even if your symptoms are mild. You should self-isolate at home while you book the test and wait for the results. You must self-isolate if you test positive. Your isolation period includes the day your symptoms started (or the day your test was taken if you do not have symptoms), and the next 10 full days. This is the law.
You must also self-isolate if you are told to do so by NHS Test and Trace, for example if you have come into contact with someone who has tested positive. This remains the law, regardless of your vaccination status.
From 16 August, if you have been fully vaccinated you will be exempt from the requirement to self-isolate if you are a contact of a positive case. You will instead be advised to take a PCR test as soon as possible.
All adults in England have now been offered at least one dose of a Coronavirus vaccine. This gives you the best protection against Coronavirus. If you have not yet had your vaccination you can:
- book your Coronavirus vaccination appointments online for a vaccination centre or pharmacy;
- find a walk-in Coronavirus vaccination site to get vaccinated without needing an appointment
- wait to be contacted by your GP surgery and book your appointments with them
You’ll need to book a 2nd dose for 8 to 12 weeks after your 1st dose.
- If you book online, you’ll be asked to book appointments for both doses. You can manage your Coronavirus vaccination appointments to view your appointments and rebook if you need to;
- If you have your 1st dose at a walk-in vaccination site, you can book your 2nd Coronavirus vaccination appointment online. You’ll need to wait 24 hours after your 1st dose before you can book or
- If you have your 1st dose through your GP surgery, you’ll be contacted when it’s time to book your 2nd dose.
If you cannot book appointments online, you can call 119 free of charge. You can speak to a translator if you need to.
However, even if you have been fully vaccinated, you could still get Coronavirus and get sick – a recent Public Health England report shows that around 1 in 5 people who are double-vaccinated are still vulnerable to getting infected with the Delta variant and showing symptoms. You can also still spread Coronavirus to others.
We all need to do what we can to reduce the spread of Coronavirus to protect others and to reduce the risk of new variants developing and spreading.
This advice will help us protect our friends, families, and communities, including those who have been vaccinated.
Clinically extremely vulnerable people are advised to follow the same guidance as everyone else.
As someone who is at a higher risk of becoming seriously ill if you were to catch Coronavirus, you may wish to think particularly carefully about precautions you can continue to take.
If you are worried about going back to a more ‘normal’ life, there is information from the NHS on how to cope with anxiety about lockdown lifting.
The care home visiting guidance has relaxed too:
- every care home resident can have ‘named visitors’ who will be able to enter the care home for regular visits. There is no limit on the number of ‘named visitors’ that a single resident can have and no nationally set limit on the number who can visit in a single day; and
- every care home resident can choose to nominate an essential care giver who may visit the home to attend to essential care needs. The essential care giver should be enabled to visit in all circumstances, including if the care home is in outbreak (but not if the essential caregiver or resident have Coronavirus).
There is different guidance for supported living and extra care settings.
The Delta variant in Birmingham.
With Covid cases rising in Birmingham, the government announced on Monday 14th June that enhanced support would be made available for the City; focussed on increasing vaccination take-up, testing and support for those self-isolating.
Over the next few weeks there will be surge vaccination in 15 wards with the lowest take-up and highest Covid rates, along with greater walk-in capacity at vaccination sites.
The 15 wards – Alum Rock; Lozells; Bordesley & Highgate; Heartlands; Bordesley Green; Sparkhill; Birchfield; Small Heath; Ward End; Newtown; Sparkbrook & Balsall Heath East; Aston; Nechells; Balsall Heath West – will also be offered doorstep lateral flow testing, and PCR testing will be offered for schools and universities. There will also be further support for those who have to isolate (Test and Trace Support Payment).