Amidst the holiday season, as we head towards a new year, most of us are either spending time with our close ones or planning a trip to do so. The government has opened all state borders barring Western Australia, which has undoubtedly helped people look forward to travelling after two months of re-imposed border restrictions.
Although ninety per cent of Australians aged 16 and above are all fully vaccinated, the danger is far from over. The escalating Covid-19 cases and the fast-spreading of the Omicron variant have caused widespread concern among health experts. Therefore, medical professionals advise people to be extra cautious while mixing with others outside their homes.
Hassan Vally, an epidemiologist at Deakin University, said it is vital to enjoy social connection and celebration. But at the same time, it is equally imperative to be mindful of the situation and not risk covid-19 transmission. Therefore, especially people at higher risk of severe disease should take extra precautions.
Below are some of the ways that experts suggest to have a covid safe new year :
Get the booster shots.
The best way to ensure that you don’t get infected by the virus or risk transmission is to get vaccinated, followed by getting a booster shot if you are eligible. The good news is that the federal government has cut the waiting time for boosters from six months to five. This indicates that by December 31st, 4.1 million Australians will be eligible to receive the third dose.
The booster shots are not mandatory, but in response to the highly-mutated Omicron that is causing the vaccine immunity to wane, we need an extra vaccination dosage to ensure protection from the new variant.
Last week Australian researchers published preliminary data indicating that the booster vaccine can raise the protection to 86 per cent against symptomatic infection. While against severe infection, it can increase the protection to 98 per cent.
Organise social events accordingly
Due to Australia having the festive season that coincides with summer, people can plan their outdoors end-of-year festivities with proper precautions. However, as per the evidentiary reports, most Covid transmissions occur indoors because it provides greater chances for contact due to lack of social distancing or poor ventilation.
Experts suggest that planning get-togethers outside in the backyard under the open sky is much safer. But if organising a party indoors, it is essential to have proper ventilation and maintain standard hygiene. Examples are washing hands, sneezing into the elbow, keeping social distancing.
At-risk family or friends
It is quite possible to have family or friends showing early signs of the disease, so what can one do in such a case?
Research suggests that adults over 60 and immunocompromised are more at risk of getting infected with the disease. Moreover, if that infected person continues to socialise, they risk high transmission.
To reduce the risk of transmission, the person should take a rapid antigen test beforehand. Upon viewing the results, if it shows positive, it is better to avoid all social situations at all costs and seek immediate medical help.
Ensure that there is no infected person in your get-together
Even though most people have been vaccinated, it is possible that some are yet to receive their first two doses. Hence when inviting guests and friends over, it is recommended to ensure that they all have been jabbed.
It might seem not polite to ask them to take a test before their arrival. However, it is only cautious to know that vaccination is necessary. Especially when people vulnerable to disease are attending the party, social and health consideration is imperative.