Surging COVID-19 cases have caused widespread anxiety across the UK, and while we’re all continuing to dream of a restriction-free life – what’s the science behind the UK’s latest COVID restrictions?
Record COVID-19 cases were seen over the Christmas holidays in the UK, and while some parts of life have started returning normal, others remain as challenging as ever. Our ‘out of office’ might be off, but this year we’re wearing our fluffy socks to work from home. It was only a few weeks ago that we saw COVID-19 restrictions reinstated in the UK, but we’re already starting to see them change. As a community, we’ve had to deal with inconsistencies which have left us feeling, frankly, confused - especially when we’re left thinking… ‘but why?’.
Whether you’re living in England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, you’ll be affected by a number of restrictions.
As infection prevention specialists, we want to help explain why these restrictions are in place.
Face coverings COVID-19 is caused by a virus in the ‘coronavirus’ family called ‘SARS-CoV-2’, it spreads from person-to-person through indirect contact and respiratory particles that are coughed, sneezed or breathed out from an infected person. Wearing a covering over your nose and mouth helps to catch some of the particles, before they can be inhaled by you or someone else.
Socialising restrictions Due to the way COVID-19 spreads, being in a large group of people means that you are at a higher risk of infecting, or being infected by, someone else. Reducing the number of people that you are in contact with is a simple way of reducing the spread of the virus.
Working from home If you can, working from home immediately reduces the number of people mixing from different households. For lots of people, working from home isn’t possible, so it’s about making safe choices where you can. If you can’t work from home, there are other precautions you can take in the office such as wearing a mask, social distancing, washing your hands regularly, disinfecting surfaces and ventilating the room.
Our first descent into lockdown was marked with the ‘Hands, Face, Space’ tagline – and while yes, these measures will protect you from infection, some key infection prevention fundamentals were missed off the list. “Your hands are only as clean as the last surface they touched.” Using a hand hygiene product regularly (hand sanitiser or soap & water) will remove harmful microorganisms from your hands. You can easily double-down on your efforts by regularly disinfecting high-touch surfaces in your home or workplace, to prevent spread by indirect contact. We’d recommend a product that’s effective against lots of different microorganisms, not just coronaviruses, such as our Universal wipes, which have been used in 9 out of 10 hospitals in the UK during the pandemic.
There are still a few cold months ahead of us yet. Unfortunately, cold months means closed windows, which is great for keeping the heat in but not so much for preventing the transmission of airborne germs. Air filtration systems such as Rediair help to reduce the number of infectious particles floating in the air. These compact machines trap floating particles, stopping them from causing further infection. So, investing in an air filter is an even better option to keep your family, friends, or staff safe.
Leading scientific minds are yet to claim that we have fully passed this winter’s peak. The guidelines may change again, but rationale behind them will remain the same. The good news is that early studies are showing that Omicron is causing a milder form of disease than other variants – but it is still highly transmissible.
Related content: Omicron: why all the fuss?
As a population, there are lots of things we can do to make sure we’re all safe for future strains that may emerge. Remember: Hands. Face. Space. Surfaces. Air.
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