Council urges residents to continue helping reduce spread of virus
As people across Herefordshire return to their normal routines this week, Herefordshire Council is reminding them to play their part to help keep everyone across the county safe.
The government’s Plan B remains in place to help prevent the spread of the highly contagious omicron variant of COVID-19.
This means people are being advised to work from home if that’s possible.
It also means face masks must be worn in most public places, including on public transport. Pupils who are returning to secondary schools this week are asked to wear masks in class, unless they are exempt.
Get vaccinated and boosted
Being vaccinated helps protect people against the worst effects of omicron. Most residents in Herefordshire have already been jabbed and the majority eligible for a booster dose have taken up the offer. We encourage anyone who has yet to be vaccinated, and those who need boosters, to visit the national booking system to find a slot. There are vaccination sites across the county, including pop-ups in different locations, such as supermarkets, making it easier than ever to access vaccination.
Free tests available at LFD test pop-ups
We also have teams of people running pop-ups across the county, making it easy for residents to pick up free lateral flow tests. See our social channels to keep up-to-date on where and when the pop-ups are sited. Please beware that high demand means some of our sites have been running out of tests before the end of the day. So, it’s best to visit as early as possible when a pop-up is convenient.
Test kits are available by:
- Ordering them online on the government portal
- Picking them up from participating pharmacies
- Collecting them from another pop-up site
Testing rules are changing
This week the government announced it is changing the rules on testing. From 11 January, people without symptoms of COVID will no longer need to confirm a positive lateral flow test with a PCR.
The rules have not changed for people with COVID symptoms. If you have any of the COVID symptoms (high temperature, cough or loss or change in taste or smell) then it is important that you continue to book and take a PCR test and isolate until you have this PCR result.
Under the new guidance, anyone in England without COVID symptoms who receives a positive lateral flow test result should report it on the government webpage and self-isolate immediately. They will not need to take a follow-up PCR test.
Having reported a positive test result, they will be contacted by NHS test and trace so their contacts can be traced.
Anyone who tests positive will be able to leave self-isolation seven days after the date of their initial positive test if they receive two negative lateral flow test results, 24 hours apart, on days six and seven.
There are some exemptions to the new rule. A confirmatory PCR test is required as part of the eligibility criteria to receive test and trace financial support – so if you are likely to want to claim this £500 you should still get a PCR test. PCR tests will also continue to be taken by those taking part in COVID research studies and around one million people in England eligible for new NHS treatments for COVID will all be asked to take a follow-up PCR.
Dr Rebecca Howell-Jones, the council’s acting director of public health, says:
“As we return to our regular routines after the festive break, it’s important not to relax when it comes to COVID. COVID case rates are very high in the county so it’s as important as ever that we all take the actions we can to reduce spread and protect vulnerable people.
“It’s still really important to take a lateral flow test if you plan to meet people. If you have a negative test, try to keep socially distanced and wear a mask wherever possible. Remember, meeting people outside is safer than being indoors.
“Don’t forget what else you can do to help reduce the spread of the virus. Getting your COVID vaccine doses and booster is really important. Also, keep washing and sanitising hands; wear face coverings when out shopping, in places of worship and on public transport; work from home where possible and let fresh air into indoor spaces.
“And, if you have a temperature, cough, loss or change to your sense of smell or taste, no matter how mild, please isolate and get a PCR test as quickly as possible.
“Please play your part to help everyone in Herefordshire to enjoy a healthy 2022.”
Visit our play your part webpage to find out more about keeping Herefordshire safe.
Visit this government webpage to stay up to date with advice on coronavirus.