Wirral’s Director of Public Health – “the virus hasn’t gone away”

The Government’s Living Safely with Covid  plan has been updated, with new symptoms and testing rules, as Wirral’s Director of Public Health reminds residents that “the virus hasn’t gone away.”

With the removal of legal restrictions, the new guidance aims to support the public to make informed choices that reduce the spread of respiratory infections – including COVID-19 – as we move into a new phase of the pandemic.  

Julie Webster, Director of Public Health, Wirral said, “Living safely with COVID-19 does not mean ignoring it. The virus continues to circulate in our communities and case rates have remained consistently high over the past few weeks.

“Free, universal community testing has now ended – meaning we no longer have detailed data on how many people have the virus locally but I need to stress that COVID-19 has not gone away.

“I urge Wirral residents to help prevent the virus spreading by doing the things we have done so well for the past two years. If you’ve not had the vaccine yet, it’s not too late to get your first jab.

“If you are due to have your 2nd or booster doses, get them as soon as you can. You can make an appointment online at NHS.UK  or by calling 119. You can also book an appointment with your GP.” 

How can I stop the spread of COVID-19 and other respiratory infections? 

  • Getting your jabs 
  • Limiting contact with others and staying at home if you have symptoms, or test positive 
  • Regular hand washing 
  • Wear a face covering in crowded and enclosed spaces 
  • Continue to keep rooms well ventilated 
  • Meet outdoors rather than indoors wherever possible 
  • Carry a tissue to catch coughs and sneezes – bin the tissue immediately 

How do I access a test? 

Those most a risk and certain groups can still access free LFD tests from the Government. Tests can be ordered online, and you also see a full eligibility list here

For those who are not eligible for free tests, LFTs can be purchased over the counter in pharmacies, and some high street stores, starting from as little as £1.99. 

What are the symptoms? 

The public are now being advised to look out for a wider range of symptoms to prevent the spread of all common respiratory infections, including COVID-19 and flu. 

The updated list of symptoms includes: 

  • continuous cough 
  • high temperature, fever or chills 
  • loss of, or change in, your normal sense of taste or smell 
  • shortness of breath 
  • unexplained tiredness, lack of energy 
  • muscle aches or pains that are not due to exercise 
  • not wanting to eat or not feeling hungry 
  • headache that is unusual or longer lasting than usual 
  • sore throat, stuffy or runny nose 
  • diarrhoea, feeling sick or being sick 

What do I do if I have symptoms? 

Adults with the symptoms of a respiratory infection, including COVID-19 should try to stay at home and avoid contact with other people until they feel well enough to resume normal activities and they no longer have a high temperature. 

What if I can’t stay at home? 

If you have to leave your home while you have symptoms, you are advised to avoid close contact with anyone who you know is especially vulnerable to illness. For example, those whose immune system means that they are at higher risk of serious illness, despite vaccination

To lower the risk of spreading infection: 

  • wear a well-fitting face covering made with multiple layers or a surgical face mask 
  • avoid crowded places such as public transport, large social gatherings, or anywhere that is enclosed or poorly ventilated 
  • exercise outdoors in places where you will not have close contact with other people 
  • cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze; wash your hands frequently with soap and water for 20 seconds or use hand sanitiser after coughing, sneezing and blowing your nose and before you eat or handle food; avoid touching your face.

Should my child attend school if they test positive or are unwell? 

It is no longer recommended that children and young people are routinely tested for COVID-19 (unless asked to by a health professional). If they do test positive, they should not go  into school and should try to stay at home for 3 days, after the day they took the test.

After 3 days, if they are well enough (and do not have an ongoing high temperature), they can return to school. 

Regardless of testing positive, children and young people who are unwell and have a high temperature should stay at home and avoid contact with other people, when possible.  

They can go back to school and resume normal activities when they no longer have a high temperature, and they are well enough to attend. 

Children and young people with mild symptoms such as a runny nose, sore throat, or slight cough, who are otherwise well, can continue to attend school. 

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