Questions and Answers on the New Covid-19 Rules in England

If you only have mild symptoms how safe is it to go into an office or other workplace?

The question you should ask yourself is would you be comfortable being in the same office as someone who had a positive Covid-19 test the day before? Now that the legal requirement to isolate after a positive test in England is ending, employers will need to carry out risk assessments and implement their own infection control policies. My advice would be for employers to remain cautious for now and advise employees with symptoms or a positive Covid-19 test to stay off work for a period until we have more experience about the effect of the change in rules.

I’ve had plans to go for dinner and drinks with friends for a birthday party but have tested positive. If we’re all triple vaccinated how big a risk is it if I still go?

People who are fully vaccinated can still become infected. If you test positive for Covid-19, I would advise not attending the event, particularly if it is going to be in a crowded indoor venue where there is a significant risk of infecting others who are present. Although Covid-19 vaccination does substantially reduce the risk of serious illness and death, there is still a risk to older people and those who are clinically vulnerable even if they are fully vaccinated.

Will GPs and hospitals still only see you if you have no Covid symptoms?

If you have Covid-19 symptoms, you should inform your GP or hospital before they see you so they can take suitable precautions. We are still awaiting guidance for the NHS on how the new rules will operate for them, such as whether face masks will still be required in healthcare settings. However, because they deal with people who are clinically vulnerable, the NHS will need to take appropriate precautions to prevent someone with Covid-19 infecting other patients.

I was told to shield during the lockdowns, and now triple jabbed. Is it safe for me to go to places where people might have Covid?

If you are in a group that was advised to shield during lockdowns, Covid-19 still poses a risk to you even if you are fully vaccinated. You should continue to wear a well-fitting FFP2 mask in places like shops and on public transport. Whether you go to places with a higher risk of Covid-19 such as nightclubs is a personal decision that you need to take but I would advise being cautious until infection rates in the community fall further.

I work in a care home. What if I test positive, do I go into work as normal?

People living in care homes are at very high risk of a serious illness and death if they become infected for Covid-19. Care homes should therefore keep appropriate infection control measures in place, such as asking staff who test positive for Covid-19 to self-isolate for a period.

If everyone is going about normal life even if they have Covid, what’s likely to happen to infections and could it lead to herd immunity?

In recent weeks, the number of Covid-19 cases, hospital admissions and deaths have been falling. The high level of immunity in the population from vaccination and previous infection should keep the number of serious cases of Covid-19 at a manageable level. However, people’s immunity does decline over time, which is why the government has just announced that those at highest risk from Covid-19, people aged over 75 years and those with weak immune systems, will be offered another booster vaccination. The long-term future remains uncertain and we don’t yet know if an additional booster will be offered to a wider group of people later in the year. We also don’t know what will happen next winter when there may be a lower level of immunity in the population. Finally, there is always the risk that a more infectious variant of the coronavirus may emerge like the Omicron variant that we faced late in 2021. Unfortunately Covid-19 will remain with us for the foreseeable future and become part of our lives, like other respiratory infections such as flu.

These comments were first published in the Daily Mirror.

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