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People urged to take steps this Christmas to help protect against spreading COVID-19

Health chiefs in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent are urging people to take extra precautions this Christmas to prevent COVID-19 from spreading as investigations continue into the impact of the newly discovered Omicron variant. As people start planning get-togethers with friends and families over the festive period – often in enclosed spaces – they are being advised to take simple steps to keep transmission of the coronavirus to a minimum and to ensure a safer Christmas for everyone. Studies show that COVID-19 particles exhaled by someone infected with the virus in an enclosed room can hang around in the air like smoke. As one in three people with the virus has no symptoms, this means that they could be spreading it without knowing. Simple tips for protecting the people around you include wearing a face covering in enclosed busy spaces to help reduce the volume of COVID-19 particles in the air, and opening windows in airless rooms when people are getting together. Even ten minutes of fresh air being let in at intervals can help to reduce the volume of COVID-19 particles in the room. Updated rules following the discovery of Omicron now require people to wear face coverings on public transport or in indoor places including shops, enclosed shopping centres, banks, building societies and parts of transport hubs and people are being advised to wear masks in other public settings, such as cinemas, libraries, community premises and places of worship. People can also take a lateral flow before attending a Christmas party or visiting a crowded venue to make sure that they are healthy, which will also help to protect other people from infection. The advice also stresses the importance of getting a PCR test if you get any COVID-19 symptoms – however mild – and staying at home if you test positive to prevent you from breathing it onto others. Dr Paddy Hannigan, Clinical Lead for the vaccination programme in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent, said: “We want people to have a good Christmas, but unfortunately the activities we enjoy that make this time of year so special are also the activities that can allow COVID-19 to spread. “This means that last year’s ‘hands, face, space, fresh air’ guidance is just as important this winter: wash your hands regularly, use a face covering when social distancing is not possible and try to keep your distance from those not in your household, meeting groups outside wherever possible. “If you are going to go out and meet people, please take heed of these simple precautions, take a lateral flow test whether you have symptoms or not, and remember that the most effective way to protect yourself and your loved ones is to get your COVID-19 vaccine or booster as soon as possible to ensure that it is effective before Christmas.” Appointments for vaccines can be booked online through the National Booking System by visiting, or by calling 119. Up-to-date details and times for all other Staffordshire COVID-19 vaccination walk-in clinics can be found at You don’t need to be registered with a GP or have an NHS number to get your jab, but it will be quicker if you do, so take that information with you if you can. Don’t miss out. Get vaccinated and get back to doing the things you love to do.


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