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A round-up of the changes and need-to-know information about the covid-19 pandemic.

‘Plan B’ measures end

From Thursday 27th January, all remaining ‘Plan B’ measures put in place to combat the spread of the Omicron variant, will come to an end.

That means an end to:

  • Working from home guidance.
  • Compulsory wearing of face masks in shops and on publich transport.
  • The use of covid vaccination passes at large scale events.

The mandatory wearing of masks for pupils and teachers in secondary schools has already come into effect.

However, the guidance suggests we should continue to wear masks or face coverings in crowded indoor spaces, especially when around people we do not normally come into contact with. Masks drastically reduce the spread of water droplets which can spread the covid virus.

The UK Health Security Agency has also said that all staff and patients should continue to wear masks or face coverings in GP surgeries and all other NHS settings. We will be following this guide and ask all patients to do so as well.

Isolation and Testing

A positive lateral flow test you do at home does not need to be followed up with a confirmatory PCR test.

Instead, you should isolate immediately after a positive lateral flow test. Count this as day 1 of your isolation.

You can test again on days 5 and 6, and if both tests are negative, you no longer need to isolate. If you get a positive result, stay isolated, and keep testing until you get negative results on consecutive days.

Lateral flow tests can be ordered online for either home delivery or collection from a local pharmacist. Regardless of the result, you should enter your tests results online.

Getting Vaccinated

The best defence against covid is to get vaccinated. Vaccines are safe, free and readily available at many locations across Newcastle and beyond.

Everyone aged 12 and above needs two doses, with a booster required for those 16 and over. Depending on health conditions, some people at higher risk may be offered a third dose as well as a booster.

Across England, 72.2% of people – over 40 million – are full vaccinated with all the doses they are eligible for.

However, in Newcastle, that figure is significantly lower. Only 49.5% of people have had a third or booster dose and as many as 1 in 4 have not had any.

Help, support and advice is available to encourage people to get vaccinated and protect themselves, their family and everyone around them. You can find out more, have your questions answered and find supporting information in a range of languages on the Newcastle City Council website.

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