How we can stay safe this summer

Message from Ruth Harrell, Director of Public Health for Plymouth

As summer gets under way it’s great to see evidence that COVID-19 rates in Plymouth are reducing.

The virus was spreading very rapidly throughout our community in early spring and while the vaccination programme did a great job in keeping down the numbers getting seriously ill, many people did feel very unwell.

We are now seeing fewer people in hospital testing positive for the virus and surveys carried out by the Office for National Statistics show rates have been reducing across the country. They are still high though – so we do need to remember that the virus has not gone away – and, although we are finding our way through to living with COVID-19, that doesn’t mean pretending it doesn’t exist.

There are a few things we can all do to help to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe.

We are all looking forward to enjoying the warmer weather and that really helps, because it is far easier to meet friends and family out of doors or to make sure there is good ventilation if you do meet indoors – it is far nicer having windows and doors open in the summer!

If you are going to be meeting with lots of people, or with people who are especially vulnerable to COVID-19 perhaps because they have weakened immune systems, then do consider using a lateral flow test. Although these now cost, they are easily available from many supermarkets and pharmacists. If that isn’t affordable for you, then take a moment to really consider how you are feeling and do think about changing plans even if you are feeling only mildly unwell.

It is also important that if you have a positive COVID-19 test result or feel unwell with symptoms of a respiratory infection, you should try to stay at home and avoid contact with other people. You should only consider going out when you no longer have a high temperature or when you no longer feel unwell.

It is also sensible to continue wearing a face covering when in busy indoor spaces; whether you are just popping to the shops, or getting on a flight for a summer holiday. We certainly shouldn’t feel embarrassed to wear face coverings in shops and other venues even if many others aren’t.

Washing hands frequently is just a good habit to get into as it reduces the risk of you catching and spreading lots of nasty diseases, including norovirus and COVID-19.

It goes without saying now that the best thing everyone can do is make sure they are fully vaccinated. We are still supporting walk-in vaccine sessions at convenient places across the city, so please go along to one if you haven’t had all the vaccinations you are eligible for.

We know the pandemic has been tough on our mental wellbeing and that can impact on our lifestyle, so maybe you are wanting to think about the summer as a new chance to get healthier – stopping smoking, maybe moving more, eating more healthily or drinking a little bit less alcohol. Please do have a look at the One You website for lots of tips and guidance on becoming a healthier you.

I hope you have a fun – and safe – summer.