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Coronavirus: latest guidance

What you need to know

The government has removed remaining domestic restrictions in England. There are still steps you can take to reduce the risk of catching and spreading COVID-19:

  • Get vaccinated
  • Let fresh air in if you meet indoors, or meet outside
  • Consider wearing a face covering in crowded, enclosed spaces

Visit GOV.UK for all the latest official information.


UKHSA urges those eligible to get their free flu vaccine and COVID-19 booster 

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) is urging everyone eligible for a free flu vaccine and a COVID-19 booster to take up the offer as soon as possible ahead of what could be a difficult winter with respiratory viruses circulating widely. For all those who are eligible, taking up both the COVID-19 booster and the flu jab is an essential form of protection against the most severe respiratory viruses in circulation this winter.

International surveillance shows that H3N2 is currently the most-commonly detected flu virus worldwide. H3N2 has recently caused waves of infection in southern hemisphere countries such as Australia, which has also experienced flu circulating earlier than usual in their winter season.

This H3N2 strain circulated in the UK last winter but was held largely in check by COVID-19 restrictions when people mixed a lot less and worked from home. This helped to protect people from catching flu but has also led to lower levels of natural immunity to this strain building up within the population.

In addition to the predicted flu wave, there are early indications that COVID-19 rates are beginning to rise ahead of winter, increasing the threat to people’s health. 

As well as taking up the vaccines, everyone is encouraged to help stop the spread of respiratory viruses this winter by practising good hand hygiene, wearing masks in crowded or enclosed public spaces and covering your nose and mouth when you cough and sneeze.

Further information on vaccination is available from the NHS links below.

Local information is available from the Hertfordshire vaccination programme

Latest COVID-19 updates

Updates on the latest data concerning the coronavirus pandemic are available from:

Living safely with COVID-19

All remaining domestic COVID regulations have been lifted as part of the Living with COVID-19 Plan. COVID-19 remains a risk, it is still possible to catch and spread COVID-19, even if you are fully vaccinated.

You will not always know whether someone you come into contact with is at higher risk of becoming seriously ill from respiratory infections, including COVID-19. They could be strangers or people you may have regular contact with (for example friends and work colleagues).

There are simple things you can do in your daily life that will help reduce the spread of COVID-19 and other respiratory infections and protect those at highest risk. Things you can choose to do are:

  1. Get vaccinated.
  2. Improve ventilation. Let fresh air in if meeting others indoors.
  3. Practise good hygiene:
    • wash your hands
    • cover your coughs and sneezes
    • clean your surroundings frequently
  4. Wear a face covering or a face mask.

Face coverings and face masks can help reduce the chance of you spreading infection to others, especially in crowded and enclosed spaces, and may protect you from becoming infected by some respiratory viruses.

If you have symptoms of a respiratory infection, such as COVID-19, and you have a high temperature or do not feel well enough to go to work or carry out normal activities, you are advised to try to stay at home and avoid contact with other people.

The updated guidance is available via GOV.UK:

Further information is available in the Living with Covid Plan.

Testing

Free testing for coronavirus (COVID-19) from the NHS has ended for most people in England. There are a small number of people who will still be able to get free COVID-19 tests from the NHS.

Find out more about changes to testing for COVID-19 in England and who can get a free NHS COVID-19 test.

Travelling abroad

Check foreign travel advice for the country you are going to. The country you are visiting may have COVID-19 entry rules. You should check these before travelling.

Ventilation

As advised in the Living with COVID plan, employers and businesses should continue identifying poorly ventilated spaces and take steps to improve fresh air flow.

This film demonstrates the positive impact of reducing COVID-19 levels indoors by opening a window for just 10 minutes every hour when socialising with others.

Coronavirus spreads from person to person through small droplets, tiny airborne particles known as aerosols and through direct contact. While larger droplets fall quickly to the ground, smaller droplets and aerosols containing the virus can remain suspended in the air. If someone breathes in virus particles that are suspended in the air, they can become infected with COVID-19. This is known as airborne transmission. Airborne transmission is a very significant way that COVID-19 circulates.

In poorly ventilated rooms the amount of virus in the air can build up, increasing the risk of spreading COVID-19, especially if there are lots of infected people in the room. The virus can also remain in the air after an infected person has left. Bringing fresh air into a room and removing older stale air that contains virus particles reduces the chance of spreading COVID-19. The more fresh air that is brought inside, the quicker any airborne virus will be removed from the room.

Guidance on ventilation and how you can help prevent the spread of COVID-19 is available on GOV.UK.

Government and NHS guidance