CHRISTMAS is still at least two weeks away yet.
But what if we told you that today is one of the last days you could catch Covid, and still be out of self-isolation in time to enjoy Christmas?
The process of catching the virus, showing symptoms, getting a test and going through 10 days of self-isolation is a lengthy process.
Christmas Day is 17 days from now (December 8), leaving a small window of time in which you could realistically go through Covid illness and come out the other side ready to pull a cracker with your grandma.
Prof Christina Pagel, Director of the Clinical Operational Research Unit at UCL, told The Sun: “Once you are exposed to someone who's got it, it might take three, four or five days for you to get symptoms.
“Then you have to isolate yourself for 10 days from your symptoms, so that'll take you up to Christmas Eve.”
If you get a positive Covid test result, the Government says you must self-isolate for a full 10 days, starting the day after the day your symptoms began.
For those that have a positive test result but do not have symptoms, the process takes a lot longer.
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They must self-isolate for 10 days, starting the day their test was taken, and restart the 10 days if symptoms begin.
The following explains the most optimistic scenario in which a person has symptoms:
- Day 1: Exposure
- Day 5: Symptoms start
- Day 6-16: 10-day self-isolation period (including when you get a Covid test)
Taking the December calendar into consideration, it means that, to be out of self-isolation on Christmas Eve morning, the last day you could be infected is December 8.
That’s based on an “incubation period” of five to six days for symptoms to start.
But the World Health Organization says it can be up to two weeks – so it's not an exact science.
Prof Pagel said: “Socialising the week starting on the 13th is quite risky, if you want a Christmas.”
To be Covid-free and ready to pop a bottle of Champers on New Year’s Eve, the last day you could get infected, on average, is December 15.
With some 44,000 people testing positive for Covid every day at the moment, it's a given that thousands of families will be torn apart by the virus for another year.
Anyone told they are a close contact with an Omicron case must also self-isolate for ten days, even if doubled jabbed.
ISOLATION FOR THE NATION
With Covid vaccines and boosters a plenty, many Brits may be wondering why they have to self-isolate at all.
Prof Pagel said: “It might be that your vaccination protects you from getting very sick. But for older or vulnerable people, or people with health conditions you can't see, that might not be the case. You don't know what other people's circumstances are.
“If you decide not to isolate, you're putting others at risk.”
Although vaccines are the best shield the UK has against Covid, they are not bulletproof and people of different generations will have varying levels of immunity based on whether they’ve had a booster or not yet.
Professor Anthony Harnden, deputy chairman of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), said vaccines can do “a lot of the heavy lifting”.
Socialising the week starting on the 13th is quite risky, if you want a Christmas
Though he acknowledged there were “so many uncertainties” about the new Omicron strain and its power to bypass immunity.
Whether people should be enjoying festive fun ahead of the big Christmas day has become much controversy over the past week.
There is nothing in the Government guidance that says you need to cut down on how many people you are socialising with.
However, some ministers and leading medics have caused confusion by advising that people limit their social contact amid the Omicron variant.
Dr Jenny Harries, the chief of the UK Health and Security Agency, said “if we all decrease our social contacts a little bit, actually that helps to keep the variant at bay”.
Meanwhile, one of Boris Johnson's business ministers declared it would be “sensible” to limit Christmas parties to “four or five staff” or axe them completely if they are large companies.
Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey advised people to avoid “snogging under the mistletoe” with strangers.
George Freeman, the Under Secretary of State for Science, insisted the Government is “trying not to tell everyone who they should kiss or where they should go”.
The Health Secretary Sajid Javid last week stressed the “personal choice” message when it comes to how stringent people want to be in the run-up to Christmas Day.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “If you are invited to a Christmas party, there’s quite a few people there, maybe you want to take an LFT (lateral flow test) before you go.
“Go to the party, but just be cautious.”
How can you protect yourself from Covid before Christmas? Top 3 ways
How people go about their business while Covid is circulating is completely personal choice.
If you want to be stringent about avoiding the virus in the lead up to Christmas, you can:
- Get a booster shot
If you have been invited by the NHS to get your Covid booster shot, don't delay.
Getting the extra jab will drive protectiveness back up to 90 per cent or more.
The last day you can get your booster jab and have optimal protection by Christmas Day is December 11, as it takes 14 days to mount an immune response.
But don't let that put you off from getting the booster after so you can enter the New Year with max protection.
2. Wear a face mask
Face coverings are now mandatory in shops and on public transport in England.
People also sometimes wear them in salons, around their work or other indoor settings for extra safety.
Masking up is considered one of the best – if not the best – way to protect against the virus.
It prevents you inhaling as many virus particles, or from large respiratory droplets landing in your nose or mouth.
3. Keep hands clean
Hand hygeine is important to protect against any virus, whether that be Covid, flu or the common cold.
In some circumstances, viruses can be caught from surfaces that have been touched by an infected person.
Keeping the hands clean with water and soap or antibac reduces the risk of you transferring these bugs to your own nose or mouth.
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