With Christmas only a month away, the excellent news is that COVID circumstances within the UK have been falling, and are actually on the lowest we’ve seen them for a while.
Meanwhile, the variety of new flu infections stays steady. And folks of their 20s and 30s have a number of the lowest case numbers of each viruses – nice in the event you’re planning your work Christmas get together or simply fancy getting along with your folks this festive season.
However, whereas flu charges are comparatively steady, they’re greater than they’ve been for the previous few years, and knowledge from Australia suggests the UK might face an earlier and extra extreme flu season this 12 months. Plus, final 12 months, COVID circumstances elevated 139% within the two weeks main as much as Christmas.
This article is a part of Quarter Life, a collection about points affecting these of us in our twenties and thirties. From the challenges of starting a profession and taking good care of our psychological well being, to the thrill of beginning a household, adopting a pet or simply making buddies as an grownup. The articles on this collection discover the questions and convey solutions as we navigate this turbulent interval of life.
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Add in the truth that it seems unlikely that your previous COVID infections or vaccinations will provide a lot safety in opposition to new omicron variants, and the Christmas sparkle is barely dimmed.
But in the event you’re desirous to rejoice after two years of curtailed festivities, don’t despair. There are some things you are able to do to minimise the chance of COVID or flu ruining your Christmas get together.
1. Location, location, location
Thinking fastidiously concerning the location of your Christmas celebration can actually assist forestall the unfold of influenza and COVID viruses. Both flu and COVID are unfold by small liquid droplets after we breathe, converse, cough and sneeze.
Somewhere open air like an open-air ice rink or rooftop bar is the proper alternative. A preprint (a examine not but peer-reviewed) based mostly on contact tracing knowledge discovered that the chances of transmitting COVID in a closed setting had been 18.7 occasions higher in contrast with an open-air setting.
Large an infection occasions or “superspreader” occasions occur most frequently in venues which can be extra densely occupied and the place folks spend an extended time. On a smaller scale, COVID infections have been discovered to develop in distinct clusters in crowded indoor areas. So it is perhaps price rethinking in the event you had been going to carry your Christmas get together in a “cozy” basement bar and as a substitute courageous the winter chill exterior.
2. The visitor checklist
Limiting the quantity of people that might meet was in fact used as a method to restrict the unfold of COVID earlier within the pandemic. Even although these guidelines are now not in place, it’s price pondering twice about inviting the entire firm to a single occasion. Instead, you would possibly have the ability to maintain a collection of smaller occasions, for instance by splitting into totally different departments.
On common, every one that contracts COVID will cross it on to between two and three others. But that neat nation or international stage estimate, referred to as the copy quantity (R0), hides enormous variation on the particular person stage. In actuality, most COVID infections stem from only a handful of individuals. Infection evaluation estimates that round 15% of circumstances trigger 80% of secondary infections.
The copy variety of seasonal flu varies, however on common one particular person with the flu will cross it on to 1 or two others. Flu is mostly extra uniform in its unfold, that means the R0 quantity is extra consultant. A extremely infectious particular person with COVID is estimated to expel lots of to hundreds of infectious virus particles per minute whereas speaking, singing or coughing. People with flu expel the virus at decrease charges.
3. Get vaccinated
A latest preprint suggests two of the newer COVID variants, BQ.1 and XBB, have mutations which make them superb at evading the immune system. This signifies that safety gained from earlier vaccines and pure infections won’t be as efficient as in opposition to earlier variants of the virus. Precisely how these variants will reply to our present immunity is unknown although, and the NHS has provided 26 million folks in additional weak teams throughout England an autumn booster this 12 months.
Also take into account a flu vaccine, which may scale back the severity of sickness and even cease you you from changing into in poor health. Flu vaccines are available within the UK at GPs and pharmacies, and price between £12 and £15 in the event you’re not eligible for a free one. Many workplaces will reimburse you for this price.
XBB and BQ.1: what we learn about these two omicron ‘cousins’
4. Avoid karaoke
What’s deliberate for the workplace Christmas get together? A easy meal and some drinks? Or is one thing a bit extra fascinating on the agenda? It appears that Christmas events with actions (like escape rooms) and themes (equivalent to on line casino) are on the rise.
When it involves having a COVID-safe Christmas get together, I’m afraid karaoke is on the naughty checklist. One examine discovered that we produce greater charges of aerosols (tiny particles which may include infectious virus) throughout singing in contrast with respiration and talking. And anecdotally, singing has been linked to some superspreader occasions. So perhaps decide one thing else this 12 months.
Victoria Easton has beforehand acquired funding from the BBSRC, MRC, Wellcome Trust, Cancer Research UK and GCRF. She is affiliated with the University of Leeds and is a member of the Microbiology Society.
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