Hide, Reduce the Guest List, and Sit Outside: 10 Tips for a Safe Christmas | Australia News
With no restrictions that would normally accompany spikes in Covid cases, Australians are on their own to plan a safe Christmas.
There are steps we can take to reduce the risk of transmission at Christmas gatherings and help protect you and your family and friends.
Here are some tips on how to safely enjoy the holiday season.
1. Reduce socialization
This is the season … to reduce socialization. Perhaps the most difficult expert advice to follow is to reduce contact with a large number of people.
It’s not something health experts advise lightly, but given the increased transmissibility of the Omicron variant, it becomes an easy way to lower your risk of infection.
Professor Hassan Vally, an epidemiologist at Deakin University, said socialization was, unfortunately, directly related to the risk of transmission.
“Instead of attending 10 separate gatherings, you might say this is the year when you should just go to two or three that are the most important.
“There is going to be a lot of judgment that is going to be required.”
2. Reduce guests
It might sound mean, but maybe you shouldn’t be inviting your first cousin’s boyfriend’s sister over to lunch this year. Health experts advise people to avoid large crowds while on vacation, including family members.
Be ruthless with your guest list. This means reducing the number of people invited to parties, gatherings, dinners or barbecues, many of which can potentially serve as mass-market events.
Vally said it was a “simple relationship between the number of people you interact with and your likelihood of getting infected.”
3. Stay outside
Health experts estimate that the risk of transmission increases by up to 30% as soon as a person enters an indoor area, especially an area with poor ventilation.
This becomes particularly relevant at Christmas, with experts advising people to avoid crowds in high-risk places such as pubs, clubs or boats.
Professor Peter Collignon, an infectious disease doctor and microbiologist at Australian National University, told the Guardian that the safest Christmas gatherings are those held outside.
“I think you would get some protection, especially for your older parents, if you tried as much as possible to hold your gatherings outside,” he said.
“The more you are indoors, in bars and pubs, these are the most common events. The more you are there, the more it increases your risk. “
4. Know the vaccination status of those around you
One advantage of staying in smaller, more intimate gatherings is that you’re more likely to be able to track everyone’s immunization status.
Professor Sarah Palmer, a virologist at the Westmead Institute, stressed the importance of creating a “vaccine bubble” at gatherings, in order to protect people from infection.
“Is your whole family vaccinated?” Otherwise, there can be difficult discussions about who should meet and who should not.
Palmer was aware that family reunions were spoiled by the difference in immunization status, but said keeping track was of the utmost importance.
5. Manage unvaccinated guests
Annoying! What if a guest or family member is unvaccinated and insists on attending a Christmas gathering? Health experts say this is where you should ask them to be socially aloof and wear a mask. Kiss them across the back yard.
Vally said unvaccinated people posed a risk to everyone present and it was reasonable to ask them to take extra precautions to protect others.
“It can cause them to wear a mask, to be socially distant where possible, or it can cause them to do the rapid antigen test,” Vally said.
6. Be aware of boosters
Palmer added that the recall was essential to keep Christmas gatherings safe from Covid.
Earlier this month, the booster schedule was changed in light of growing cases, with the gap between the second dose and the booster now standing at five months.
But Palmer said people had to be “very careful” if they still haven’t had to get a third dose.
“The booster increases your antibody level, up to 25 times in fact. If you are doubly vaccinated you will have some protection, but you are likely to be more likely to be infected.
7. Wear a mask
Masks are still considered essential to reduce transmission.
Chief Medical Officer Professor Paul Kelly told reporters on Wednesday that the masks work to reduce transmission.
“They protect you, they protect others. The health advice is to wear a mask, ”Kelly said.
Masks are especially recommended in indoor environments, especially in retail stores, or in places where social distancing is not possible.
8. Use rapid antigenic tests
Rapid antigenic testing could be a convenient way to protect yourself and others, but only if used regularly.
But with varying reports of shortages and varying levels of reliability, they should act more as an extra layer of protection, not a replacement for other preventative measures.
Vally said they should be used “very wisely” and at special times.
“Doing a rapid antigen test in the 24 hours before a rally, or even immediately before a rally, could reassure everyone. “
9. Maintain good hygiene
Good hygiene always plays a major role in preventing infections.
Victoria Health advises people to continue practicing good hygiene over the Christmas holidays, saying it remains essential.
“Cough or sneeze into your elbow. Wash your hands regularly with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer or soap and water, especially after touching surfaces, coming into contact with other people, and when preparing, washing. service and consumption of food.
10. Enjoy Christmas
Finally, after a difficult and eventful year, experts also advise everyone to try and enjoy the holidays, despite the necessary extra precautions.
“I think it will be very important for people to enjoy Christmas this year,” said Vally. “Just do it in a reasonable and responsible manner.”