ANYONE travelling to the West Midlands from any Tier 4 area or Wales should “assume” they have the new variant of Covid-19 and self-isolate for up to 10 days.
And if a person is self-isolating no visitors should be allowed in the house at all, even on Christmas Day.
This is the new urgent advice issued yesterday (Monday December 21) from West Midlands Directors of Public Health following the “very rapid increase” of the new strain of Covid in cases in London and parts of the South East and East of England.
Coventry’s public heath director Liz Gaulton warns it is “critical” people do not lower their guard over Christmas and follow the new health measures because of the threat of a new variant of coronavirus.
Infection rates continue to creep up in the city – 790 positive cases were reported in the last seven days up to December 21, an increase of 217 (37%) on the previous week, according to latest data.
Over the weekend areas affected by the new strain in the UK were placed into Tier 4. It is now illegal to travel to or from a Tier 4 area, including London, where ‘Christmas bubbles’ have been cancelled.
In Coventry ‘Christmas bubbles’ can meet with no more than two other households on Christmas Day only.
Liz said: “This year has been so challenging for all of us and I know that so many of us were looking forward to the Christmas period for a bit of normality in such a tough year.
“But the events of the weekend have shown that we cannot let our collective guards down over Christmas as, although we are in Tier 3, our rates are rising and the new variant could well already be circulating around our region.
“What we do know is that the measures that stop Covid spreading will also work against this new variant.
“That means things like hands, face, space is absolutely essential as they do work which is why it is so important we do not relax over Christmas. We must continue to do the right thing 100% of the time, avoid close contact with anyone not in our bubble especially when in closed spaces where the virus can transmit more easily.”
Other key advice for the Christmas period:
- You must not travel to Tier 4 areas. Travelling in and out of different tiers risks increasing the speed that the new variant will spread across the country
- Although Coventry is in Tier 3, our rates are increasing and it is probable that the new variant is circulating. Therefore, keep your contact to a minimum and act like people you see have the virus.
- Think ‘should I do this given what we know about the new form of the virus’ not ‘can I do this within the rules’
- You can only meet your Christmas bubble on the 25th December. Keep your visit as short as possible, as few people as possible and outdoors if you can
- Look out for other people but pick up the phone or see people virtually to check if they are okay
Liz added: “I know it has been such a difficult year, but it is so important we continue to build on what we have achieved so far so we will be able to see our friends and family as soon as possible.
“But we need to hold off for a little longer and let the NHS do its work treating people with COVID and other critical health needs and give them the time to roll out the vaccine. The NHS really need our help at this time.”
Anyone who shows any symptoms of COVID-19, no matter how mild, should book a free test immediately by calling 119 or visiting www.nhs.uk/coronavirus