Library picture – not me!
I have had my covid booster. Hours later l succumbed to a rotten cold – one that blocked my sinus and succeeded in making me miserable. I am sure it’s coincidental – l had been sneezing a lot for a couple of days before – but it does make you think about the onset of winter bugs.
It’s apt then that people are being encouraged to remember the personal hygiene measures that were common during the pandemic and use them to keep seasonal illnesses at bay this winter.
Hand-washing, mask-wearing in crowded public spaces and avoiding friends and family when feeling unwell became part of everyday life at the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic, and were among the interventions that helped turn the tide on the virus.
Now, with the cold winter months just around the corner, health and care professionals are asking members of the public to re-adopt these behaviours to help limit the spread of common seasonal illnesses, such as flu, Covid-19 and norovirus.
Dr Amanda Webb, Chief Medical Officer, Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire Integrated Care Board, said: “At the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, we had all become experts at keeping ourselves and our loved-ones safe.
“Although the threat of coronavirus is no longer as severe as it once was, the virus is still present, and when flu, norovirus and other seasonal illnesses are thrown in the mix, it’s likely to make this winter a real challenge.
“It’s never too early to get winter-ready, and by simply remembering how we all acted during the pandemic, and re-introducing those simple yet effective safety measures back into our daily routines, we can give ourselves the best chance of staying fit and healthy throughout the coming months.”
Cases of Covid-19 have been rising across the region in recent weeks and, as a result, rules around mask-wearing have been once again stood up at the Great Western Hospital in Swindon.
Similar rules on face coverings are also in place for certain clinical areas at the Royal United Hospital in Bath and Salisbury District Hospital.
Along with good personal hygiene and a pragmatic approach to social distancing, people are also advised to avoid visiting friends and family in hospital when showing symptoms for contagious illnesses, such as Covid-19, flu and norovirus.
Entering a health and care setting when feeling unwell has the potential to spread viruses among already-poorly patients, and the frontline staff who are working tirelessly to provide those who are unwell with much-needed care.
Vaccinations can also play a major role in reducing winter illnesses, and all those eligible for the Covid-19 autumn booster and the winter flu jab are encouraged to book their vaccines as soon as they are invited to do so.
Both vaccines will be offered to all adults over the age of 50, as well as to specific groups of more vulnerable people, including pregnant women, those with weakened immune systems, carers and care home residents.
Up-to-date information on who is currently eligible for a flu and Covid-19 vaccine, along with advice on how to book a vaccination appointment, can be found online at http://www.nhs.uk.
Details of local health and care services, as well as guidance on what to do and where to go when feeling unwell, is also available online at http://www.bsw.icb.nhs.uk.