Dr Faisel Baig, Chair of North Lincolnshire’s Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “I can imagine many people are worried about what the new Omicron Covid-19 variant will bring over the coming weeks.
“There remains much research to be done but early indications suggest this variant is more transmissible than previous and current strains. And this comes at a time when infection rates are already high both nationally and here in North Lincolnshire. In addition, winter has arrived and this is the most challenging season for illnesses and viruses spreading through families and communities.
“We’re at a critical and potentially dangerous point in our fight against coronavirus. Please, I would urge everyone to abide with the Government’s new guidance around wearing face masks in shops and on public transport. This new variant is spreading throughout the world and, again in line with the latest Government guidance, I would encourage those who have been abroad to undergo a PCR test as per the guidance.
“It is also imperative people self-isolate if they have been in contact with somebody who has a suspected case of Omicron – even if you are double vaccinated. If you’re a parent of children at secondary school, please do encourage them to wear their masks in communal areas when they are there.
“As a local GP, and someone who cares deeply about the health of North Lincolnshire patients, I would personally urge extra caution when in crowded areas as well. It isn’t mandatory, but please do consider keeping your distance from others if you can. Let fresh air in if you meet people indoors – good ventilation is vital. Meet outdoors if you can. I know it’s cold now, but wrapping up warm and going for a walk with friends is a safer option.
“The other two messages I would stress are to come forward for the vaccine, whether it be the first, second, third or booster dose, and the importance of regular testing. Lateral flow tests are important to take regularly when you have no symptoms and booking a PCR test is the correct thing to do as soon as you have symptoms (high temperature, continuous cough and lack of taste or smell).
“The booster programme will be opened up to all those aged 18 and above amid the Omicron development. Please, when you receive your invite to book your booster, don’t hesitate in doing so. The vaccines have already saved thousands of lives in this country. If you haven’t had a single dose yet, now is the time to come forward to give yourself that protection.
“Covid-19 remains a serious health risk and we should all remain very cautious – especially during the winter months when our NHS is already under severe pressure and at least until we know more about this new variant.
“I see many patients every week and I know this is frustrating for so many of you. We all want life to return to normal as soon as possible. But the pandemic is far from over – especially for this winter at least. We must do all we can to stop the spread of this new variant in North Lincolnshire.
“We’ve already lost hundreds of lives to this virus in our area alone and we don’t want to lose any more. Many more have had their lives hindered by Long Covid – an illness which can have huge long term implications on somebody’s life.
“So please do take the above measures seriously and hopefully these smaller measures are enough to prevent greater action being taken over the festive period.
“Together, we will beat coronavirus.”
Image used in this article is courtesy of NHS North Lincolnshire Clinical Commissioning Group