Step safely into spring is the message from Cambridgeshire's public health and council leads, as the next stage of the Government's plan to live with Covid begins.
From today (April 1) free lateral flow testing kits are only available for some specified groups or settings, and the message from director of public health Jyoti Atri is that while infection rates remain high in the county, people should remain cautious.
"We do hope that as we move into spring, better weather will encourage more people to meet outside and infection rates will fall. We also know that we are in a better place than last year and Covid is not causing the level of harms that we have seen previously. Most people in the county are now vaccinated and boosted and the most vulnerable are now eligible for spring booster. Anti-viral treatments are also helping reduce the numbers of people becoming seriously ill.
"But Covid is still out there, it is very transmissible and is still causing people to become unwell. This is having an impact on staffing capacity in some of our essential services, like health and social care. Employers should ask people who are feeling unwell to stay at home, to stop the virus spreading throughout the workforce.
"Covid rates are high across the county at the moment and if you are feeling unwell with a temperature and a cough, Covid is most likely to be the cause. Commercial tests will be available, and it will be a matter of personal choice if residents want to take them up. Whilst it is no longer a legal requirement to isolate, it is still government guidance to stay away from others if you are unwell with a high temperature or bad cough until you feel better."
Her message was reiterated by Cllr Richard Howitt, chair of Cambridgeshire's Adults and Health Committee. "Keeping up to date with your vaccinations, wearing a face covering in enclosed crowded places, keeping a window open and washing your hands can all help to stop the virus from spreading.
"We all want to get back to a more normal life, but while we are still seeing a rise in cases we need to do all we can to keep our schools open, our care homes able to welcome visitors, and our essential services fully staffed."
And Cllr Susan van de Ven, chair of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough's Health and Wellbeing Board, added; "It's not just essential services, but all businesses which could suffer if staff are affected and can't come to work. I would urge people to continue to follow public health advice."
A full list of those eligible for free lateral flow tests, and how to access them, can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/changes-to-covid-19-testing-in-england-from-1-april.
More information on the Government's living with Covid plan can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-sets-out-next-steps-for-living-with-covid.
Article date: April 2022