'This is not the message we were expecting to write': Health chiefs issue fresh advice after new Covid variants lead to rise in hospitalisations in Northamptonshire

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Experts say two new subvariants of the Omicron strain have appeared

Public health officials have reminded the public that Covid-19 has not gone away after to new variants of the virus have emerged in Northamptonshire, leading to an increase in hospital admittances.

The interim public health directors said the message was one ‘they were not expecting to write’ in their weekly statement to the media but it was one that had to be made.

The statement is as follows:

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Advice issued by public health officials in NorthamptonshireAdvice issued by public health officials in Northamptonshire
Advice issued by public health officials in Northamptonshire

"This is messaging we weren’t expecting to write. We were, and are, focused on providing advice on how to get as fit and well as possible before the next expected COVID-19 wave in the Autumn and Winter.“However, two subvariants of the Omicron strain of the virus, known as BA.4 and BA.5 have appeared. More importantly these appear to be more infectious than other more recent variants such as BA.2. Rates are on the rise in Northamptonshire, in both North Northamptonshire and West Northamptonshire. Sadly, an increase in cases inevitably leads to an increase in hospital admissions, something we’ve already started to see in the county’s hospitals.“We know that people in general are far less interested in hearing about COVID-19, having been bombarded by messaging for over two years. But part of our remit as Directors of Public Health is to provide the public with expert, objective advice on health matters so we need to repeat some of that messaging to help keep Northamptonshire residents as safe as possible.“So, this is a reminder that COVID-19 hasn’t gone away. With any increase of mixing, we are likely to see an increase in the numbers of cases which is why we need to remain vigilant. Meet in outdoor environments where the risk of transmission is lower and ventilate homes and workplaces when meeting indoors.Handwashing regularly and covering your nose or mouth when you sneeze or cough may seem obvious, but they remain important, yet simple methods of keeping the spread of COVID-19, as well as lots of other viruses, at bay. Wearing a mask in crowded indoor spaces is also a good idea. And, of course, do isolate if you have a positive test result, or if you have any COVID-19 symptoms.“We’d also like to talk about re-infections. Just because you have had COVID-19 once doesn’t unfortunately mean that you won’t get it again. At the start of the pandemic reinfections were rare but have become increasingly common as the years and months roll on, particularly since Omicron’s arrival. So, this advice stands for all in Northamptonshire even if you’ve had COVID-19 before.“Covid-19 vaccination provides a substantial added layer of protection against reinfection by boosting people’s immune responses. Those currently eligible include people aged 75 and over and those who are immunosuppressed. We would urge those who have yet to act on the invite to get their Spring Booster dose to do so as soon as they can.

“Getting the jab now will also mean there will have been enough time between doses ahead of a further autumn dose to extend protection over winter. It’s not too late Spring booster jab appointments can be booked quickly and conveniently on the NHS website or can be booked by calling 119.”