Croydon’s director of public health Rachel Flowers is urging residents to protect themselves, friends, families and wider community from Covid-19 by following the new government guidance that comes into force on Tuesday.
The government has announced it is taking urgent precautions imminently due to a new Covid-19 variant – Omicron, which has recently been identified with confirmed cases in this country.
Due to concerns that this variant could be more infectious and less responsive to vaccines, from Tuesday 30 November, everyone in England, including Croydon residents, must follow the new measures, which are:
• Wearing a face covering will again be compulsory in shops and on public transport
• Pupils, staff and visitors at secondary schools are advised to wear face coverings in communal areas. The guidance also applies to staff and visitors at all schools and childcare settings
• All contacts of suspected Omicron cases will be required to self-isolate for 10 days, regardless of a person’s vaccination status
• From 04:00 on Tuesday, anyone entering the UK will require a PCR test within 48 hours of arrival and will need to self-isolate until they have a negative result
Rachel Flowers, Croydon’s director of public health, said: “Due to the sensible precautions we have been taking in Croydon throughout the past year, Covid-19 cases and fatalities have declined in our borough. Unfortunately, cases have started to increase again in recent weeks. Now the new Covid-19 variant – Omicron, presents another threat to our journey to return to a more normal way of life.
“It is vital that we all play our part to keep ourselves safe and protect those around us. The rise in seasonal infections, and with the impact of the backlog in NHS services, capacity in our GPs and hospitals remains a serious challenge.
“To continue to slow the spread of the virus, we must return to being more cautious as Christmas and New Year approach and there will be more opportunities to socialise with family, friends and colleagues. The next stage of the pandemic is very difficult to predict.
“Vaccination is the most effective way of avoiding serious illness and reducing the spread of Covid-19. Providing we all continue to adopt a cautious approach, we can stop things from escalating once again.”
The government has today agreed to widen the Covid-19 vaccination programme to give more protection to residents by offering booster jabs to adults aged 18-39 no sooner than three months after the second. Children aged 12- to 15-years-old will also be offered a second dose of the vaccine, 12 weeks after their first. Severely immunosuppressed people can receive a fourth dose of the vaccine as a booster – they are currently receiving three jabs.
Residents are also being reminded to keep up these important actions to reduce the risk of catching and spreading Covid-19:
• Get your first and second dose of the Covid-19 vaccination, and your Covid booster jab as soon as you are eligible
• Wash your hands regularly for 20 seconds each time
• Keep your distance from others
• Let fresh air in if you are meeting indoors
• Take a test for Covid before going to crowded places or spending time with those who are at greater risk from Covid
• Self-isolate if you test positive for the virus
• Keep testing for the virus, even if you don’t have symptoms. Free rapid lateral flow tests and home test kits are available at community venues in Croydon