Dr Hilary warns Covid is 'still a threat' and urges caution at Christmas

THE CORONAVIRUS is is still a threat and is "easily spread", Good Morning Britain's Dr Hilary Jones has warned.

This morning Health Secretary Matt Hancock will lay out which areas will face the toughest restrictions before families are permitted to gather for five days over the Christmas period.

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Under the government's Christmas plan, people will be able to join "festive bubbles" with a total of three households from December 23 to December 27.

They will be allowed to travel across the UK to see family and loved ones during that period regardless of restrictions.

But Dr Hilary this morning warned Brits to we cautious over the Christmas period and said that parts of the country still have high infection rates.

Speaking on the show this morning he said celebrating Christmas with your loved ones is all about the "balance of risk".

He said:"Yesterday there were 18,200 cases that tested positive and that’s just the numbers we tested.

"Nearly 700 deaths, so the virus is still a threat, it’s still out there and in some parts of the country a lot of people are infected and it’s highly transmissible – we have to remember that."


 

Under the current lockdown, people in England have been told they can only travel for essential reasons, while all non-essential business were shut down.

But the PM said this week that no matter what tier a region is in after December 2 – shops can remain open.

Beauty salons, gyms and hairdressers will also be allowed to reopen in all Tiers.

And all of the Tiers will be partially lifted briefly for five days over Christmas.

Dr Hilary said people need to "communicate in a different way this Christmas".

'Be cautious and careful'

He added: "Having said that I know people have suffered this year, I know they feel isolated or the elderly folk feel isolated and they want to get together.

"I think if they have both been shielding to an extent, if both groups have been very careful, very cautious, very responsible then the risk is small.

"I have used the expression balance of risk a lot this year but it is about balance of risk, the virus is still quite prevalent".

The government have allowed Tier restrictions to be relaxed over the Christmas period and Dr Hilary suggested that people should still try and keep gatherings to a minimum.

"I think if people need to get together, you don’t have to follow the guidelines to the letter but they are the minimum.

"You can do more than the guidelines suggest and be more cautious than the guidelines, you shouldn’t do more than that – but three households is a lot of people for some families and I think just be sensible and keep gathering to a minimum."

His comments come after leaders across the UK hammered out plans so that loved ones could spend time together over the Christmas period.

The details of the plan include:

  • Three households will be allowed to meet up with no limits on numbers
  • They will have to form an exclusive bubble and not meet others during that time
  • There will be a relaxation of restrictions on overnight stays, and people will be allowed to travel freely across Tiers
  • People in their 'Christmas bubble' will be able to go to other people's homes, church or public spaces together – but wont be able to go to the pub or out for meals in any indoor settings

Social distancing won't need to be kept to during the five day relaxation of the rules, but ministers will remind people to be alert of the risks of spreading the virus.

There will be some differences between the four nations of the UK, however, on what counts as a bubble and how people can split up to see family.

Cops won't be expected to patrol to enforce the new rules – but will step in if people break them by hosting huge gatherings and hold parties.

Relaxation of the rules will be 'unhelpful'

Earlier this week experts warned that relaxing the rules "could be deadly" for some groups.

Dr Gabriel Scally, president of epidemiology and public health at Royal Society of Medicine, said: "Five days is excessive. There are not family gatherings that last five days, I think that would be too much.

"A long relaxation, particularly of the rules around alcohol and hospitality, I think that would be unhelpful and would feed the virus. We have to remember the levels of the virus are still very high, even though we are supposed to come out of lockdown next week."

But he added: "I do think for those who want to do it, it will be good to have some loosening of the rules."

Dr Nibedita Ray-Bennett, founding president of the Avoidable Deaths Network, said: "In my opinion, 'the relaxation for five days' is an emotive decision, not based on science.

"It is a decision of high risk with high impact. Sadly, the impact will be evident through the increase in the number of deaths.

"We will lose lives. For some, this decision could lead to their last Christmas."

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