Exact date to begin isolation so you can safely see family and friends on Christmas Day


With a surge in cases of the Omicron covid variant, it’s important to be cautious when socialising. Dr Jeff Foster explains how to stay safe, while also keeping your family safe this Christmas

If you're planning on heading home to see family or loved ones for Christmas, you should be taking some Covid safety precautions
If you’re planning on heading home to see family or loved ones for Christmas, you should be taking some Covid safety precautions

It’s been a tough year and, while there have been new restrictions introduced due to Omicron, families and loved ones are still able to reunite for Christmas 2021.

There are now reportedly 10 people in hospital with the Omicron Covid variant, and it may already be infecting an estimated 200,000 people daily in the UK, according to modelling for the government.

While reuniting with family and friends is a welcome relief towards the end of the year, it’s crucial to be careful when you’re out and about and take precautions to reduce your chances of becoming infected with coronavirus.

And, if you’re wondering how to keep your family as safe as possible at Christmas, we spoke to Dr Jeff Foster, Medical Director & Male Health Lead at h3health.co.uk, to find out some top tips.

No matter how you’re getting home to see family this Christmas, it’s important you take Covid safety precautions prior
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When should I isolate from so I can safely see my family at Christmas?

While there is no official date outlined for keeping your family safe at Christmas, it is important to take precautions prior to visiting family for Christmas.

Dr Jeff Foster tells Mirror Online: “It certainly appears Omicron is more infective than previous variants and may also spread earlier.

“We know that the time from exposure to symptom onset, also known as the incubation period, is two to 14 days. “

However, he also explains that you can be asymptomatic for several days prior to feeling unwell and testing positive. Therefore, you should ideally isolate from around December 19, 2021 , up to six days prior, before seeing family or friends on Christmas Day.

You can be asymptomatic for several days if you have Covid, so it’s important to do tests frequently
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This will allow you to see whether you have any symptoms, and it also gives you plenty of time to get a PCR test result should you come into contact with someone who’s tested positive for Covid or the Omicron variant.

And, there is also a risk of unintentionally infecting people you come into close contact with as you may not be aware of your symptoms instantly.

Dr Foster says: “You are not likely to be infectious for the first 48 hours of exposure as you won’t have built up enough virus to be able to spread it to someone else.”

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If you want to reduce your chances of spreading the virus, you should be regularly testing with lateral flow tests, particularly if you feel any Omicron symptoms.

The unusual Omicron symptoms to look out for ahead of visiting family this Christmas

While Covid symptoms for the variants have fairly similar characteristics, South African Medical Association chair Dr Angelique Coetzee, revealed that a key differentiating symptom with Omicron is headaches on Tuesday, December 14.

She said: “Even if you wake up with a slight headache, not feeling well, please come and let us [GPs] double check.”

Another potential Omicron symptom mentioned by Dr Coetzee was myalgia, so you may feel muscle soreness or body ache.

If you begin to feel unwell and have any cold or flu-like symptoms, or even a headache, be sure to take a rapid lateral flow test as soon as possible and avoid socialising.

Due to the incubation period, you’re unlikely to test positive on a PCR test instantly, so Dr Coetzee recommends waiting 24 hours before testing.

Dr Jeff Foster’s tips for staying safe at Christmas and avoiding the spread of coronavirus

If you’re planning on heading home to visit family and loved ones this Christmas, Dr Jeff Foster recommends following these measures to keep yourself and others safe.

1. Get vaccinated

Dr Foster says: “This is the best thing you can do. One year on, we can see the massive benefits the vaccine has had in reducing hospitalisation and death.

“We also know that while there is some reduction in its effectiveness over time, the booster still has significant protective effects even on the Omicron variant.”

The government aims to have offered all of the UK’s adult population vaccinated with the booster jab by the end of 2021.

All adults in the country are now able to go to walk-in centres for their booster jab, or will soon be contacted to book an appointment.

2. Wear a mask

As self-explanatory as it sounds, wearing a mask is one of the best ways to significantly reduce your chances of getting Covid.

Dr Foster explains: “There are people that believe is an imposition on their liberties and rights, but overall the evidence is that it reduces the spread of the disease.

“It is not a terrible imposition to ask, it harms no one and it may help save an elderly or vulnerable person’s life.”

3. Ventilation is key

While comfort and cosiness is key at Christmas, it’s worth keeping windows open throughout the house whenever possible when you’re with your family during the festive season.

Revealing how much of a difference it makes, Dr Foster says: “Covid likes stale and still air where it can be breathed in again and again.

You will not get covid from breathing a single virus, but it is about breathing enough of it in to trigger an immune response and allow the virus to spread. Keep your windows open and circulate the air.

“This disperses the virus and reduces the chance of breathing it in.”

4. Hand sanitiser

Another factor that’s absolutely crucial when out and about or on public transport is using hand sanitiser and washing your hands frequently.

Keep a mini bottle in your pocket or bag and sanitise your hands throughout the day to avoid spreading the virus.

Dr Foster adds: “In addition to breathing it in, touching something a virus has had contact with and then touching our faces is a common way we get a lot of viruses including covid.

“Wash your hands and give people a ready supply of hand gel. Getting into the habit reduces risk further”

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www.mirror.co.uk

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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