December 7, 2021, 20:17

    Christmas shoppers urged to take a lateral flow test in new government guidance

    Christmas shoppers urged to take a lateral flow test in new government guidance

    People have been urged to take rapid lateral flow tests before Christmas shopping, heading to festive parties or even visiting loved ones indoors.

    New Government guidance warns people are more likely to catch Covid or pass it on if they are in crowded spaces or where there is "limited fresh air".

    Previously people had been advised to use lateral flow tests twice a week.

    Now it is advised to take the rapid Covid test even if someone is heading to a space where people are wearing face coverings.

    The updated advice does not explicitly say people should take the rapid tests before shopping or partying, but it references "crowded spaces".

    Nicola Sturgeon went a step further than the British Government and urged Scots to take the rapid tests before socialising or going on any shopping occasion.

    Brits have been urged to take lateral flow tests before going into crowded settings

    In Pictures via Getty Images)

    The First Minister of Scotland told MSPs: "We have been asking everyone to take a regular lateral flow test. We have been asking people to do this twice a week, however over the festive period we are asking for extra effort.

    "So on any occasion that you are socialising with others, whether that is going out for drinks or dinner, visiting someone at home or even going shopping somewhere that might be crowded, please take an LFD test before you go.

    "And if it is positive do not go."

    Cabinet Office guidance states: "You may wish to take a rapid lateral flow test if it is expected that there will be a period of high risk that day.

    "This includes spending time in crowded and enclosed spaces, or before visiting people who are at higher risk of severe illness if they get COVID-19."

    It comes as the World Health Organisation said Europe could experience more than two million Covid-19 deaths by March.

    Dr Hans Kluge, WHO regional director for Europe, said: “In order to live with this virus and continue our daily lives, we need to take a ‘vaccine plus’ approach.

    “Taken together, wearing a mask, washing hands, ventilating indoor spaces, keeping physical distance and sneezing into your elbow are simple, effective ways of gaining control over the virus and keeping societies going."

    Tory Ministers are thought to be largely unconcerned with Britain being affected by the wave of Covid hitting Europe.

    Boris Johnson has said there is no need to introduce fresh lockdown restrictions despite rising cases across the continent.

    “Of course we are concerned about the potential from that disease," Mr Johnson said speaking at the CBI conference.

    “You have got to be humble in the face of nature but at the moment we see nothing in the data to say that we need to move from plan A to plan B, or any other plan.

    “The best single thing you can all do is get your booster. When you are called forward to get it, please do so.”

    The Prime Minister insists there is still no need to introduce Covid 'plan B' measures

    POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

    On a similar note, Ms Sturgeon said the Covid vaccine passport scheme will not need to be extended.

    The Scottish Government had been considering extending its Covid passports system to pubs and cinemas from December 6 in Scotland.

    But Ms Sturgeon said Covid cases are "currently stable and indeed slightly declining" and there would be a significant impact on businesses.

    The Shadow Health Secretary fears the second jab rate needs to drastically increase to avoid another winter lockdown.

    Jonathan Ashworth told Sky News: “There are still parts of the country where the second jab rate, like Leicester or Blackburn, still isn’t good enough. We really need to drive that up.

    “And of course you need to put in other protections as well. So the ball is in ministers’ court really. They’ve got to put these protections in place to avoid further restrictions, but I definitely do not want another one of Boris Johnson’s lockdowns."

    Northern Ireland has told people to work from home amid the fresh Covid wave in Europe.

    The country's infection level is at a similar growing rate to Germany's, a country that is currently considering lockdown measures.

    Businesses had been given advice to prepare for a return to the office – but this will now be changed to encourage employers to help staff do their jobs remotely.

    In a statement, the Stormont government said: "Our collective aim is to reduce pressure on our hospitals, while allowing our society and the economy to remain open as fully and safely as possible.

    "That means we all need to take action to prevent a worsening of the situation that would potentially require more severe measures."

    The number of weekly registered deaths involving coronavirus in England and Wales has passed a thousand for the first time in eight months, figures show.

    There were 1,020 deaths registered in the week ending November 12 where coronavirus was mentioned on the death certificate, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

    Layla Moran MP, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on coronavirus -1>Coronavirus, said: “It’s bewildering that before considering basic and effective preventative measures like mask wearing and social distancing, the government has leapfrogged ahead to advise the much more onerous lateral flow testing for Christmas shoppers.

    “Cases and deaths have been unacceptably high in the UK since the summer and Ministers must take responsibility and offer serious solutions to avoid another cancelled Christmas.”

    A Government spokesperson said: “Taking a free rapid lateral flow test will give you peace of mind that you are unlikely to be infectious and able to spread Covid-19.

    “It remains vital to get vaccinated and continue to take other preventative measures such as regular hand washing, wearing a face mask and keeping spaces ventilated when meeting people indoors.”

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