From today (Monday, August 16) people who are double-jabbed or under 18 no longer have to self-isolate if they are identified as a close contact of a positive case. This includes household contacts.
Instead they will be advised to get a free PCR test as soon as possible to check if they have the virus, and will only be legally required to isolate if they test positive.
But this doesn’t mean Cornwall has seen the back of Covid. In fact like elsewhere in the country cases are rising and the people of Cornwall and visitors are being reminded of the tools at their disposal to keep the virus at bay.
- Getting vaccinated – both jabs!
- Testing twice a week with free Lateral Flow Tests.
- Wearing a face covering in crowded areas and public transport.
- Regularly washing your hands or using sanitiser.
- Keeping your distance from people if you can.
- Meeting people outside if possible or ensuring indoor areas are well ventilated if not.
Continued pressures on emergency services in Cornwall mean all these measures are really important to protect the local NHS.
The latest rule changes mean adults and children identified by NHS Test & Trace as close contacts will be free to return to work, go to school and meet friends and family rather than cutting themselves off for 10 days.
The move is part of Step 4 of the Government’s Roadmap out of lockdown which began with the lifting of most legal restrictions on July 19.
Ruth Goldstein, Deputy Director of Public Health for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, said: “This is another step on our return journey to a normal life and will be welcomed by residents and businesses alike, but it doesn’t mean we have seen the back of Covid.
“Even if you’re double-jabbed you’re still at risk of being infected, so if you’re identified as a close contact it’s still a good idea to take precautions such as wearing a face covering in enclosed spaces and limiting contact with other people, especially with anyone who is clinically extremely vulnerable.
“If you are identified as a close contact, it is also vital that you get a PCR test so we can continue to identify positive cases and variants of concern.
“And finally, if you develop symptoms at any time – whether you’re vaccinated or not – you should get a PCR test immediately. It must be stressed that it is still a legal requirement to self-isolate if you test positive.”
The change to self-isolation rules has been made possible due to the rollout of the vaccination programme, which not only protects people from Covid-19 but also stops it from spreading so easily.
In Cornwall, more than 7 in 10 people who are eligible to have the vaccine have been double-jabbed.
Cllr Dr Andy Virr, Portfolio Holder for Adults and Public Health, said: “It’s great that life is slowly returning to normal and we can all now live with fewer restrictions. This is all down to our excellent vaccination programme so it is crucial that everyone gets both jabs as soon as possible to protect each other and stop the virus from spreading.”
He added: “If vaccination is our main message, then testing comes a close second as it is critical to controlling Covid as restrictions ease. Anyone with symptoms should take a PCR test immediately and self-isolate if it is positive. And if you don’t have symptoms it’s really important to keep testing with Lateral Flow Tests twice a week to catch virus cases early.
“On top of this we would also encourage people to carry on taking the precautions we have all become used to so keep washing or sanitizing hands regularly, wear a mask indoors, in crowds or on public transport, keep your distance from others where possible and ensure indoor areas are well ventilated if you can’t meet up outside.”
For more information on the new self-isolation rules for close contacts of positive cases visit www.gov.uk/coronavirus
To book or order a PCR test visit www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test To find out where you can pick up Lateral Flow Tests visit https://maps.test-and-trace.nhs.uk/ or to order them to be delivered to your home visit www.gov.uk/order-coronavirus-rapid-lateral-flow-tests
For more on vaccinations and where to get your jabs visit www.kernowccg.nhs.uk
For more information on the pandemic in Cornwall visit www.cornwall.gov.uk/coronavirus