Covid reminder: everything you need to know
The UK is already embroiled in a fifth wave of Covid-19 infections, experts have warned, adding that summer festivals with large crowds could turn into superspreader events if precautions are not taken .
The country saw a 43% rise in coronavirus cases in early June, apparently caused by people gathering to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee over a four-day weekend.
Latest figures show 1.7million people are testing positive across the UK, a 23% increase week-on-week (wow), with the surge driven by the BA.4 subvariants and Omicron’s BA.5, the strain which spread rapidly across the UK in December 2021 and January 2022 before gradually dying out.
More worryingly, hospitalizations rose 31% wow, climbing at a higher rate than during Omicron’s last revival in March.
Health chiefs have warned that a new outbreak will have a significant impact on an ‘already kneeling’ NHS and have expressed concern over the return of major live events like Glastonbury, Notting Hill Carnival and the Edinburgh Festival .
“We’re in a wave right now,” said Professor Tim Spector of the ZOE Covid app. “[We’re] heading towards a quarter of a million cases a day is already a wave.
“We’ve relaxed everything, most people don’t think there’s a Covid issue at the moment, most people don’t wear masks, or even worry about cold symptoms.”
All of this means that new measures could eventually become necessary to curb transmission, perhaps the return of face masks and social distancing in public spaces or even the deployment of second booster shots.
Since the winter, only those over 75 have been offered a second booster (their fourth overall), meaning immunity could start to wane for the majority of the population six months after their last shot.
“If we’re going to go into another wave, maybe that’s something that should be reconsidered,” John Roberts of the group Covid Actuaries suggested to The Independent in mid-June
NHS rules on recalls were relaxed in December 2021 so that all over-18s are offered a third shot, a decision to withdraw from Omicron backed by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization, which also recommended reducing the period between the second and third moves from six months to three in an effort to beat the variant.
This means that if you still haven’t had a third injection and you’re over 18 – or over 16 with a medical condition – and it’s been at least three months (91 days) since you received your second dose, you can still get a booster.
If you are eligible, you no longer have to wait for the NHS to contact you for make an appointment online (as it was originally).
You can also visit a local walk-in vaccination center to get your shot, with patients being asked to use the NHS online appointment finder to locate their nearest center with a postal code.
If you have had a positive Covid test, you are advised to wait four weeks (28 days) before booking your booster, from the date you took the test.
If you think you have symptoms associated with the coronavirus, the current NHS advice is to take a lateral flow test and isolate yourself at home for five days if the test is positive to avoid passing it on to others (you should stay away from anyone who may be particularly vulnerable due to age or pre-existing condition for 10 days).
If you must go out in public, we encourage you to wear a face mask, avoid crowded indoor spaces, and wash your hands for at least 20 seconds.
If you are concerned about your symptoms or think they are getting worse, we advise you to consult 111.nhs.ukcall 111 or call your local doctor’s office.