So-called ‘Freedom Day’ in England on Monday 19th July, sees almost all restrictions lifted. However, for many people this ‘freedom’ comes with many mixed feelings. We’ve been waiting for this moment for over a year, or more precisely 480 days, but who’s counting?
However, according to the latest ZOE data, daily new cases are still very high. So as restrictions come to an end, the pandemic continues, leaving many of us anxious for the future while others celebrate a potentially premature victory over COVID.
Here are Tim’s top 7 tips to help you navigate this new ‘freedom’
Watch below to hear him talking a bit more about his top tips.
1. Respect others
We’ve lived through a lot since this pandemic started so let's be kind and respect one another.
Be aware of personal space and personal choice.
Some people might not be ready to hug, kiss, shake hands or reduce social distance. Don’t assume what people are comfortable with. Instead, ask them and respect their personal choices.
This is particularly true of the choice to wear face masks. With limited guidance from the government on where and when we should be wearing face covering, respect people’s choices. If wearing a mask makes someone feel safer, then they have every right to continue wearing one.
2. Socialise outside
Socialising outdoors remains one of the best ways to reduce transmission of COVID-19. Fresh air means very small droplets and aerosol particles that contain infectious virus can’t hang around and disperse quickly so open air spaces are the best places to be with friends and family.
Luckily, we’re finally seeing signs of summer and the daylight hours are much longer so get out that garden furniture, reclaim your favourite spots in your local park and keep it al fresco!
3. Wear a mask in poorly ventilated or cramped areas
Airborne particles can multiply rapidly in crowded, badly ventilated places, like the Tube or a train.
So anywhere you’re in a crowded confined space, Tim recommends you continue to wear a face covering, if you are able to. Companies like Ryanair and Transport for London have already stated they’ll continue with mandatory masks, which is sensible and should keep us all safer.
This probably isn’t the advice many people will want to hear, as the topic of face masks really divides us. But we know from our research that face masks do work, both for preventing you from passing on viral load if you’re infected, and for catching some of the droplets which may be expelled by those around you.
Back to point one though, as it’s not a legal requirement anymore, it really is up to people to make their own decisions on wearing face coverings.
4. Keep practising good hygiene
Droplets can be transferred from your hands to skin so Tim advises you to avoid touching your mouth and eyes if you’ve been out and haven’t washed your hands in a while. It can help stop people picking up infections and spreading them to others.
The advice for hand washing is to do it for 20 seconds, and any soap you can get hold of will do. If you need reminding, the NHS has a handy guide you can look at here. If you don’t have access to soap and water, then using an alcohol based hand rub with a minimum of 60% alcohol will work if this is available to you.
5. Get your 2nd jab of the COVID vaccine
The more research we pull from the ZOE COVID Study, the more evidence we see that two vaccines are the key to protection, particularly against the Delta variant.
With two doses, Public Health England found that you have up to 96% protection from hospitalisation with COVID infection, whereas you have much less protection with one dose, with some reports suggesting it could be as low as 52% depending on the brand.
Our data set is showing that almost all of our contributors have had their 1st dose so we want to encourage everyone to get their jabs as soon as they can.
Many people only recognise the three ‘classic’ COVID symptoms, but there are many more.
The British government has yet to add other symptoms to its official list, despite evidence of over 20 COVID symptoms, leaving the public none-the-wiser. If you don’t know the COVID symptoms, we will miss cases!
These are the top symptoms taken from data reported in the ZOE COVID Study in the 30 days up to 14th July 2021.
Top COVID symptoms after two vaccine doses:
Loss of smell
Top COVID symptoms in the unvaccinated
7. Please keep logging with ZOE COVID Study
It’s more vital than ever to keep on logging your symptoms with us now that restrictions have been relaxed.
By continuing to log your symptoms, your contributions can help us to stay at the forefront of discovering the current top symptoms indicating COVID infection pre and post-vaccine.
Your data over the next few months will help us to find out how effective the vaccines are working long-term, which can then help us to understand whether or not booster vaccines may be a requirement to prevent further outbreaks.
By logging regularly, it helps us to continue to monitor emerging COVID hotspots. Thanks to you, we have been able to identify these hotspots ahead of other survey studies, which can serve as an early warning sign if you’re living in the area.
The contributions you have been giving to the ZOE COVID Study have been so crucial in helping us understand the pandemic, and remain just as important as we hope to see it coming to an end.