Commuters, some with PPE, on a busy London Underground.
TOLGA AKMEN | AFP | Getty Images
LONDON – Covid rules have been relaxed in many places around the world, including England and parts of the US, with rules on wearing masks, social distancing and the number of people who can meet both indoors and outdoors are relaxed.
While this relaxation of measures has been hailed by many, especially younger people, after nearly 16 months of on-off lockdown, many others are concerned about the changes, especially those with underlying medical conditions and health problems.
Almost all restrictions were lifted in England on Monday, dubbed “Freedom Day” (although it was delayed by a month due to rising Covid cases as a result of the Delta variant). In the US, on May 13, the CDC relaxed its Covid guidelines on masks for the fully vaccinated, stating that they do not need to use them or keep them 6 feet apart “unless it is federal, state, local, tribal , or territorial laws, rules, and regulations, including local business and workplace guidelines. “
Many experts criticized this relaxation of the rules, saying it comes at a time when the infection rate is extremely high, especially among those under 30. In the meantime, many individuals have expressed concern for their own safety and the safety of others, especially those who may be clinically vulnerable, such as cancer patients or the disabled.
Macmillan Cancer Support was one of many charities that criticized the move to open up, offering advice and a support line to all affected. It tweeted Monday that “despite the easing of restrictions, 1 in 5 cancer patients in England today feels unable to return to a normal life.”
Tim Spector is Professor of Genetic Epidemiology at King’s College London and leads the Zoe Covid Symptom study, an ongoing study in the UK that allows the public to enter their Covid symptoms into an app when scientists can then analyze the data.
On Monday, Spector and his team released seven tips to help people make use of their newfound freedoms. Here are their simple tips:
1) Respect others
Be aware of personal space and choice, said Spector on Monday as Freedom Day broke in England. “Some people may not be willing to hug, kiss, shake hands, or distance themselves from one another. Don’t assume what people are comfortable with. Instead, ask them questions and respect their personal decisions. “
This is especially true of the choice to wear face masks, noted Spector, as the problem has become a battlefield in the UK and US
“Respect the choices made by people with limited government directives about where and when we should wear face covering. If someone feels more secure by wearing a mask, they have the right to keep wearing one, ”Spector said.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has urged people to use common sense and courtesy when it comes to masks and advised them to wear them in crowded rooms. In the United States, several states and local officials have reintroduced the rules for wearing masks.
2) socializing outdoors
Socializing outdoors remains one of the best ways to reduce Covid-19 transmission, according to experts, and it’s much easier now in the summer. England and Wales no longer have rules limiting the number of people who can attend outdoor gatherings, but restrictions still apply in Scotland and Northern Ireland.
“Fresh air means that very small droplets and aerosol particles containing infectious viruses cannot hang around and disperse quickly, so outdoor spaces are the best places to be with friends and family,” said Spector.
3) Wear a mask in poorly ventilated or confined areas
In crowded, poorly ventilated places such as subways or busy buses or trains, particles in the air can multiply quickly.
So if you’re in a confined space, Spector recommends continuing to wear face-covering when possible. Some airlines have already announced that they will continue to introduce mandatory masking.
4) Continue to practice good hygiene
Compliance with basic, good hygiene was one of the most important recommendations to the public during the Covid pandemic. Virus droplets can be transmitted from your hands to your face, so avoid touching your mouth and eyes if you’ve been out and about and haven’t washed your hands in a while, noted Spector and the Zoe Covid study team.
Wash your hands with soap for 20 seconds, but if you don’t have access to soap and water, use an available hand sanitizer that is at least 60% alcohol.
5) Get your second dose of vaccine
6) Know all of the Covid symptoms
You could easily be forgiven for not knowing the main symptoms to look out for with Covid as government advice changed during the public health crisis. The symptoms were also updated when new variants appeared.
The “classic” Covid symptoms were persistent cough, loss of taste and smell, fatigue, and a sore throat (and variations on that subject), but analysis of the Zoe Covid study identified new common symptoms.
The main symptoms extracted from the data from the Zoe-Covid study in the 30 days ending July 14th are after two doses of a vaccine:
- Runny nose
- a headache
- Sore throat
- Loss of smell
For the unvaccinated, the top 5 symptoms are:
- a headache
- Sore throat
- Runny nose
- Persistent cough
7) Keep a record of all Covid symptoms you get
The Zoe Covid study team recommends the UK public to keep logging all symptoms with their ongoing study, arguing that it is more important than ever given the easing of restrictions.
“By continuing to log your symptoms, your contributions can help us stay on the front lines to discover the top current symptoms that indicate COVID infection before and after vaccination,” it reads. The data can also help experts figure out how effective the vaccines are over the long term, and could also help determine whether or not booster vaccines might be needed in the fall.