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Coronavirus / Community showed ‘quite a high level of responsibility’ during festive period

THERE was “quite a high level of responsibility” among the community over the festive period regarding advice to reduce social contact.

That is the view of NHS Shetland’s interim director of public health Dr Susan Laidlaw, who said anecdotally there are reports of some – but not all – people cutting down their social mixing.

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While people have still been socialising and having some parties, there has been a rise in people taking lateral flow tests before mixing.

Before and after Christmas people in Scotland were encouraged to cut down on their socialising in an attempt to slow the transmission of the Omicron variant of Covid-19, and if they did,  the advice was to not be in groups of more than three households.

Dr Laidlaw said there have been reports that at certain times pubs for instance were quieter compared to other years.

“I certainly hear quite a lot about people doing lateral flows before they mix with others, and we probably see that coming back in the number of positive lateral flow tests that we get,” she added.

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A number of concerts and events were postponed over the festive period, while youth clubs for instance closed early for Christmas.

“We have seen before as well where organisations and premises tend to take action themselves around closing,” Dr Laidlaw said.

“That wasn’t anything they were asked to do or told to do.

“People chose to do that for their community. I think we do see quite a high level of responsibility. Not absolutely everybody – but quite a lot.”

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Speaking during a media briefing on Wednesday, Dr Laidlaw highlighted that lateral flow tests were not available for the general public last year and close contacts were not being tested last Christmas.

There were more cases reported this festive period “but the teams are coping with them and it doesn’t seem quite so bad,” Dr Laidlaw said.

Meanwhile new national rules around testing and isolation have come into force yesterday (Thursday) to help maximise testing capacity and ensure a quicker start to the contact tracing process. They are:

  • Anyone who tests positive for Covid-19, regardless of vaccination status, must still self-isolate for 10 days. However, new cases will be advised they can end self-isolation if they don’t have a fever and test negative on a Lateral Flow Device (LFD) on day six and again at least 24 hours later.
  • Triple vaccinated close contacts of those who test positive, both household and non-household, or those under the age of 18 and four months, do not need to isolate as long as they return a negative lateral flow test result each day for seven consecutive days, and remain fever free.
  • People will no longer be asked to take a PCR test to confirm a positive lateral flow result. Instead, anyone with a positive lateral flow should report the result online as soon as possible.

First minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “When the Omicron variant started to take hold, we strengthened self-isolation requirements, so that all household contacts had to self isolate for 10 days.

“That step was intended to slow the spread of the variant. It also reflected the fact that we knew less about the severity of the virus at that time, and that less of the population had protection from booster and third jags.

“We are now in a very different position – and so we can now adopt different rules.

“These changes are significant, but we believe they are also justified at this phase of the pandemic. They balance the importance of self-isolation – in slowing the virus’s spread and reducing the harm it can cause – with the wider harms to the economy that broader self-isolation rules can cause.”

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