2023 Celebration & Holiday Seasons: Tips on How to Avoid COVID
2023 Celebration & Holiday Seasons: Tips on How to Avoid COVID
Whether you're flying off to visit extended family or friends for End of Year, New Year, or April Holiday Celebrations; whether you're acting as host for a fantastic party or gathering in your own home or at a venue; or whether you're off for a fabulous national or international vacation, you must be mindful that, as the UK Office for National Statistics shows, COVID-19 still remains a Clear & Present Danger regardless of the mass vaccination programs
And although virtually everyone would agree that: "COVID-19 vaccines & boosters coupled with the (typically) less-severe omicron variant, makes this season safer than the previous two, nonetheless, the corresponding lack of clear public health guidance around precautions feels a little unsettling" , as does the fact that the UK government has withdrawn free Covid self-testing for the majority of the population
Did You Know?
The free coronavirus (COVID-19) testing that used to be provided by the NHS, has ended for the majority of people in England. Free testing services have ceased at:
- Test sites
- Universities, schools and nurseries, and
- Community collection points (for example, libraries) .
This means that we have to be proactive and make our own arrangements to protect the health of ourselves, our families and other loved ones, our company/organisations' employees, and the countless members of the general public that we come into contact with.
So How Do We Do It?
Medical Director of Infection Prevention & Control at UW Medicine in Seattle, infectious-disease physician, Seth Cohen, MD, stated: "It's impossible to predict what will happen with COVID, but that does not mean we can’t plan for safe gatherings with friends, family, & loved ones" 
Tip Number 1: Stock Up on Lateral Flow Tests
First and foremost, we should ensure that our family, loved ones, and our employees, regularly use Lateral Flow Covid-19 Tests, such as the rapid, simple to use, government-approved ones, sold by CovidTests UK
Professional guidance dictates that:
"Rapid tests should be done 48 hours prior to your gathering, the day of, & 48 hours after arrival at your destination, & every two to three days thereafter" .
This is easy to do, as long as you are organised with (for example), a box of FlowFlex COVID Self-Test Packs, or Healgen Lateral Flow COVID Self-Test Packs. Purchasing multiple self-tests kits this way is not only economical, it also guarantees that you and your family & friends will not run out of them, and find it either impossible, or extremely difficult, to buy them in a store, or get express delivery during the holiday season. And the good news is that Covid Tests UK's top quality, inexpensive multiple test packs (which contain 5, 20, or 25 Rapid Lateral Flow test kits), are extremely light weight, and only take up a tiny amount of space in your hand or main luggage!
When it comes to protecting your children, all the government-approved Lateral Flow Antigen Covid-19 Test Kits provided by CovidTests UK, are classified as suitable for children aged 2 years and over.
Of note: "if you have symptoms, or you were recently exposed to COVID-19, you should interpret a negative test with caution" , and then take regular tests every couple of days for a two week period.
Tip Number 2: Wear a COVID Mask on Public Transport
Even though it is not mandatory, taking the precaution of wearing a good quality face mask, is a smart move if you have to fly, or use other modes of public transport to reach your gathering. Moreover: "it is recommended that everyone age 2 and older wear a mask in indoor areas of public transportation; this includes air planes, trains, the underground, and buses" .
Covid Specialist, Seth Cohen, MD remarked: "I mask when I travel, mostly because I’m always nervous about the potential of spreading COVID-19 to vulnerable family members" 
Moreover, Cohen, stated that: "masking at the airport, or when you are in line for the flight (when ventilation is not ideal and there are crowds of people nearby), is just as important as masking in-flight" . These are very wise words at a time when there is so little guidance, and people have to make their own decisions as to whether or not they will take measures to protect themselves, their family and friends, fellow employees, and the public at large.
Bearing in mind the ongoing prevalence of COVID-19 across the UK, Southern Ireland, and the rest of the world - at the present time, the best course of action, is to regularly self-test for COVID, and have a supply of top quality disposable masks. This include the highly recommended, Omnitex hypoallergenic FFP2 NR contoured shaped Face Masks, which boast a 5 layer filtration advantage, and an adjustable nose clip. They are also fluid repellent, and are designed in such a way, that it is easy for users to breath normally. - The latter is extremely important, as countless people have cast aside their less efficient masks simply because they have found that they impede their breathing, thereby preventing them from being able to work, or carry out the vast number of tasks that they normally do. The Omnitex FFP2 NR Face Masks are individually wrapped, which makes them idea for putting a a bag or pocket. And they come in three different colours to suit your style: black, white and pink.
Tip Number 3: Get the Latest Up-to-Date Booster
Doctor Cohen notes that when it comes to: "People planning large get-togethers or big trips, it may make sense to get boosted as soon as a month or two after infection, i.e., before you have a significant exposure [to a small or large crowd]. And for people planning on a quiet holiday season without much travel or large gatherings, it may make sense to wait 90 days after infection to get boosted" 
Of note, it is reasonable to assume that your body will have very good immunity for the following one or two months post-COVID infection, although, as Doctor Cohen warns: "it is difficult to know with new omicron sub-variants like BQ.1 and BQ.1.1, which are replacing the once-predominant BA.5". So to that end, taking all the necessary precautions, such as: getting the latest COVID jab, giving yourself regular Lateral Flow Covid-19 Tests, and wearing a premium quality anti-COVID mask, are essential.
Tip Number 4: Be Extra Cautious in the Days Leading Up to the Get-Together
Dr Cohen notes that people should be sure to take precautions in the seven days leading up to a group gathering. This should include: "minimising contacts from people outside your household.
and double-checking that no one has symptoms, or has had a known high-risk exposure, prior to attending the celebration" .
Tip Number 5: Remember the Watchwords 'Outside Is Always Safer'
"A good rule of thumb is that if the outdoors is an option, gather outside. COVID-19 spreads more easily indoors than outdoors, according to the Centres for Disease Control. Since people can’t wear masks while eating and drinking, bringing the party outside reduces the risk of virus transmission" 
Further good advice is that as soon as you have finished eating, put your Omnitex 5 layer filtration hypoallergenic FFP2 NR Face Mask on. Keep it around your neck, when you start eating, so that you can you can quickly pull it up if anyone near you coughs or sneezes. The same applies when you are drinking. And if you are just taking occasional sips of wine etc., then keep your mask around your neck, and do the same. - Remember that it takes just one quick exposure at the wrong time and place, to make people COVID victims.
Also, if the event has to be indoors, then make sure that the windows are open, and the place is well ventilated. Taking a cardigan, or extra clothing, can allow you to enjoy the celebrations, without feeling cold and shivery!
Tip No 6: Wait to Attend Celebrations if You Experience Certain Symptoms
Infectious-disease doctors, Nandita Mani, MD, and Sajal Tanna, MD, MPH, provide very clear guidance on this subject:
"If you have any symptoms or COVID-19, flu, or RSV — including a runny nose, sore throat, cough, headache, or fever — you should stay at home until you’re feeling much better, even if you test negative for COVID-19" 
Dr. Tanna is very emphatic, and stresses that: "It’s important to recognize that many common symptoms that may seem fairly innocuous might not be. A lot of people I’ve seen who have had COVID-19 chalk up their symptoms to allergies or a cold, or say, ‘Oh, I just have a headache because of my period.’ It’s very easy to explain things away, but I think everything should be considered COVID-19 until proven otherwise" .
COVID-19, is still a Clear and Present Danger, so don't leave anything to chance. - Think of yourself and your family and friends, always plan ahead, and be sure to stock up on government-approved, economical, top quality Lateral Flow Antigen Covid-19 Test Kits and Masks.
. Upham, B. (2022). "9 Ways to Make Holiday Gatherings Safer During COVID-19 Times."
. NHS (2022). "How do I get free home rapid lateral flow test kits?"