Dr Fiona Lemmens shares top tips on keeping your family Covid safe on Christmas Day
3 years ago
Thousands of us are getting ready for a Christmas Day get-together with family. But ‘tis the season to be careful as well as jolly, and we’re being urged to stay vigilant even when we’re sitting around the Christmas dinner table or having a few drinks afterwards.
GP Dr Fiona Lemmens, Chair of NHS Liverpool Clinical Commissioning Group, warns we can’t let our guard down on Christmas Day and believe we’re protected simply because we’re with our family at home.
Instead, she says we should be taking extra precautions to keep our loved ones safe while we all tuck into the roast.
And the most important thing is to have a plan so you can keep any risk to a minimum.
“The first thing I’d recommend is having a think about Christmas Day and whether you really need to get together or is there something else you can do instead, especially if you’ve got older or clinically very vulnerable family members,” she says.
“But I understand that sometimes the risk of not being together might be greater, for mental health, and people have been looking forward to Christmas Day.
“If you are bringing two households together, it’s important to understand that most of the transmission of Covid, we now know, happens indoors within families in the home setting.
Christmas is nearly here…and it’s crucial that we all continue to exercise caution.
— Liverpool City Council | #LetsGetTested (@lpoolcouncil) December 22, 2020
“I think the message that’s got into people’s psyche over the last few months is staying at home keeps you safe. But actually, remember that being at home with lots of other people is where you’re most likely to catch or transmit it.
“The fact that you know the people doesn’t make them any less likely to have the virus and because you’re spending longer with them in a more confined space, that increases the risk that if one of you does have it then they’ll pass it on you or you’ll pass it to them.”
You can find your nearest symptom-free COVID test site and opening times here with many open on Christmas Eve.
Dr Lemmens says having to follow guidelines and take extra care, or even not seeing family at all, might seem like more bad news on top of a difficult year, but it doesn’t have to be.
“What’s been happening is hopefully a once in a lifetime thing and it will end. It does feel like it’s been all doom and gloom and it can be even harder at this time of year anyway for lots of people. Christmas is the one thing that’s given us all some cheer and it can feel like now even that’s been taken away from us to a certain extent, but it won’t last forever.
“The short-term pain is for long-term gain and we’ve worked so hard all year, why would you stop now for the sake of one day when the vaccine is literally round the corner? We’ve started already and next month we’re going to see a big ramping up of vaccination programmes, we’re so close to being able to get together in a safer way, we just need to hold on a little bit longer.
“We should also be focusing on what we can do rather than what we can’t to keep our spirits up – things like getting out for nice walks will reduce the risk of transmitting as well.”
So, if you’re having family around for Christmas Day, or you’re heading somewhere, what can you do to keep things safe?
Here are Dr Lemmens top tips …
- Keep your group small and shorten the time you’re together – the longer you’re all in the same room breathing the same air, the more likely it is that if somebody has got it, they will pass it on.
- Make sure you ventilate the room or rooms you’re in. Keep doors and windows open, or open them periodically, so fresh air is getting in all the time. Imagine somebody was smoking and you could see it spreading around the room and then you opened a window and the smoke disappeared.
- Don’t share cups and glasses, or cutlery – it’s the kind of thing people tend to be careful about when they’re out and about, so it’s just taking that level of care at home as well, for this Christmas anyway.
- If you do have an older or vulnerable relative coming over, maybe give them a bit of space if you can so people don’t come as close.
- Remember you’re more likely to transmit the virus if you’re singing, laughing or shouting so still keep your distance at home.
- Think about spacing out your table and not all sitting closely for a prolonged period of time –having sittings so fewer people are together around the table for a shorter time would be safer.