Call to be cautious this Easter
Thursday, April 1, 2021
People in Lancashire are being urged to cautiously embrace and enjoy their new-found freedoms, as we head into the Easter period.
Up to six people from multiple households, or people exceeding six from two separate households, can now meet up outdoors, including private gardens.
Organised outdoor sports are also now allowed to take place, with outdoor areas such as basketball and tennis courts can allowed to reopen.
It is the latest stage of the Government’s four-step roadmap, which is aimed at giving the nation a route back to a more normal life.
While the 'stay at home' message has changed, public health chiefs are reminding them that Covid-19 remains a risk, particularly to a large part of the population yet to receive their first vaccination.
Dr Sakthi Karunanithi, director of public health for Lancashire County Council, said: "Staying at home is over – but staying safe from Covid-19 certainly isn't.
"The current picture is hopeful as we look to the future. Case rates have come down and people are coming forward for their vaccinations, so the protection of the population is improving by the day.
"Lancashire has been under restrictions for a long time, so it's pleasing to see those now starting to lift, alongside falling case rates and the rate of vaccination.
"We want people to safely enjoy the outdoors over the Easter period and beyond, but people must stay cautious and continue follow the rules.
"And if you do plan on visiting someone, please stick to the rule of six and outdoors. Don't mix indoors until it is deemed safe to do so.
"By and large, the people of Lancashire have stuck to the rules, and that is reflected in our falling case rates."
Another big change introduced this week is the reintroduction of confirmatory tests for anyone who receives a positive result using a rapid testing device, the kind commonly used at home.
Confirmatory PCR testing was first put in place upon the introduction of rapid testing last year. This was temporarily paused by the Government in January as the prevalence of infection was high, and therefore highly likely that a positive rapid test result was a true positive.
However, as the prevalence of Covid-19 reduces to low levels in the population, the chance of a false positive result increases, although it is still unlikely.
A way to mitigate this is to confirm a positive rapid test with a more traditional laboratory test.
This means that we will not need to self-isolate unnecessarily, and allows us to retain the benefits of rapid testing to detect true positive cases and for confirming when people are not infected.
Dr Sakthi added: "As we gradually open up our county, it is also really important that people continue to get tested regularly.
"By doing this, we can find cases of Covid-19 that we wouldn’t otherwise know about, breaking chains of transmission and potentially saving lives.
"There are many ways you can get tested, so visit Lancashire County Council's website for details.
"If you test positive with a rapid Covid test, which are commonly used at home and are for people who do not have any symptoms, you must book a confirmatory test through the NHS.
"It is essential that anyone who gets a positive result self-isolates immediately, as well as other members of their household, while they get a confirmatory PCR test within two days.
"By doing this, we can help mitigate against the risk of false positives, making it highly unlikely that anyone would need to self-isolate unnecessarily.
"As we look to the future, there is much to feel hopeful about. But we must remember that we're not completely out of the woods yet.
"By following the rules of the day, getting tested regularly and coming forward for your vaccination when offered, you will be playing your part in protecting Lancashire and its wonderful people."
More information about how you can get tested in Lancashire can be found by visiting lancashire.gov.uk/coronavirus/testing
For more information on when to self-isolate, visit the NHS self-isolation information online
Tagged as: Health and Social Care