Living safely with Covid-19 requires continued caution, say local health officials
Health leaders in Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire have responded to the lifting of national Covid-19 restrictions by saying that continued caution is needed to keep the region safe.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson previously announced that the legal requirement to self-isolate following a positive test for Covid-19 would end on Thursday 24 February.
Changes to the country’s coronavirus testing programme were also announced, with widespread free testing due to end in April and regular at-home testing for close contacts of people with Covid-19 no longer mandatory.
However, the local NHS is urging continued awareness of the ongoing potential risk of Covid-19, especially as many continue to be admitted to hospital and thousands across the region remain unvaccinated.
Gill May, Director of Nursing and Quality, said: “Getting back to normal is something we all long for, but we cannot pretend for one minute that Covid-19 is no longer with us.
“New cases are still being recorded every day and although the numbers becoming seriously unwell are not where they once were, some poor people still find themselves in hospital with this nasty virus.
“History has shown that coronavirus tends to surge when we show complacency, and with legal mandates now withdrawn, we each have a moral responsibility to do whatever we can to keep ourselves and those around us safe.”
People should, wherever possible, continue to stay at home when showing signs of coronavirus, which include a new and persistent cough, a high temperature and changes to taste and smell.
Additionally, all local healthcare settings, including hospitals and GP practices, will continue to ask visitors to observe social distancing, regular hand cleaning and mask wearing when indoors to help keep patients and staff safe.
Dr Bernie Marden, Medical Director, Royal United Hospitals Bath NHS Foundation Trust said: “Keeping patients and staff safe from Covid-19 is one of our top priorities at the RUH.
“We know that wearing face masks and social distancing are two of the most important things we can do to stop Covid-19 spreading, so that’s why patients and visitors will still be expected to follow this guidance when visiting our hospital.”
Many of the region’s GP surgeries will also continue to offer virtual appointments, either by phone or video call, to help reduce overcrowding in waiting rooms and to ensure that face-to-face consultations are available for those most in need.
Getting vaccinated against Covid-19 remains the best way of ensuring personal protection against the virus, while also helping to limit its spread to others.
Any person due a first, second or booster dose is advised to have their vaccine as quickly as possible, either by booking an appointment online or attending one of the many centres currently offering walk-in vaccinations.
People can find details of their nearest vaccination centre through the National Booking Service, which is available online at www.nhs.uk or over the phone by calling 119.
Further information about the local rollout of the vaccine, including an extensive list of frequently asked questions, can be found online at www.bswccg.nhs.uk.