Day: 11 July 2021

Therapists Warn Of Rise in Anxiety over the Easing of Restrictions

Reports suggest that a high proportion of Brits not only disagree with the easing of lockdown restrictions on July 19th (or ever, in some cases) but are also seeking help from mental health organisations due to their anxiety over ‘Freedom Day’. MailOnline has the story.

One in five people are suffering from what experts have dubbed “Covid Anxiety Syndrome”, with people reporting fears of losing control as the restriction rules put in place to protect people from contracting the virus are removed.

Meanwhile, mental health charities have warned of a surge in treatment requests while an opinion poll has revealed half of people want restrictions to remain in place.

Research by the London South Bank University (LSBU), shows that 40% of respondents to a survey avoid touching things in public, and nearly 25% are avoiding being in public places. 

Professor Marcantonio Spada from LSBU’s Centre for Addictive Behaviours and Professor Ana Nikčević from Kingston University first identified the concept of Covid Anxiety Syndrome in April 2020.

Their research found that people were developing a particular set of behaviours as a result of their fear of the virus.

Covid Anxiety Syndrome consists of forms of coping such as a constant attention to threat, worry, avoidance and excessive checking, that can keep people locked into a state of continuous anxiety and fear of contracting the virus.

Professor Marcantonio Spada, Professor of Addictive Behaviours and Mental Health at LSBU, said: “Our data indicates that after one month of re-opening of society many people are still struggling with aspects of Covid Anxiety Syndrome, a similar figure to what we previously observed during full lockdown.

“This means that there are still many people who find it difficult to disengage from the Covid threats which may make return to normal daily living harder as restrictions ease.

“Our new findings show how vital it is that people affected by Covid Anxiety Syndrome receive support. Mapping out how we will do this will become a priority for mental health service providers.”

Meanwhile, an opinion poll carried out for the Observer has revealed 50% of people believe Freedom Day should be pushed back.

The poll, of more than 2,000 people, also revealed around 65% will continue to wear masks in shops and supermarkets while 54% will wear them on public transport. …

Research by mental health charities backs up the findings, with Mind reporting that 55% of adults and young people are concerned about seeing and being near others when restrictions ease next week. 

Nearly half, 46%, of those who have been vaccinated, say they are still concerned they will catch the virus. 

It comes after Mind reported that one in four adults experienced mental distress for the first time during the pandemic, with NHS figures showing an increase in people’s contact with mental health services since March 2020.   

Worth reading in full.

Be a “Team Player” and Get the Jab, England Fans at Wembley Told

England fans are being told to get a jab at the Wembley vaccination centre when attending the Euro 2020 final later today, amid criticism from Tory backbenchers of the “ludicrous” pressuring of young Brits to get vaccinated. An NHS advert will also be shown during the TV coverage of the match to encourage more people to take the vaccine. ITV News has the story.

The NHS’s top doctor has urged fans to be a “team player” by getting their vaccination before the game if they have not already had one.

Fans turning up to Wembley will be able to get protected against Covid by dropping into the centre, which is minutes away from the famous arch.

Professor Stephen Powis, National Medical Director of NHS England, said: “The NHS vaccination programme, the biggest in health service history, is running throughout the weekend with hundreds of sites offering a walk-in service, so whether you will be cheering on England or have other plans it couldn’t be easier to grab a jab.

“The vaccine is England’s best defence, protecting yourself, your family and your loved ones against Covid, so be a team player and get both your vaccinations in what is a game of two jabs.”

Wembley is not the only football stadium running walk-in vaccination clinics, with Millwall’s The New Den and Crystal Palace’s Selhurst Park also joining the national team effort to help inoculate the population during the pandemic. …

The NHS will also air an advert during TV coverage of the Euro 2020 final on Sunday night to encourage people who have not been vaccinated to get their jab.

Worth reading in full.

People Still “Expected” to Wear Face Masks After July 19th, Says Vaccines Minister

The Government has added further confusion to mask-wearing requirements after July 19th today. While there will be no “legal compulsion” to wear a mask in England when the final stage of the lockdown roadmap is reached, people will continue to be “expected to wear masks in indoor enclosed spaces”, according to Vaccines Minister Nadim Zahawi. He is quoted in the Guardian.

I think it’s important that we remain cautious and careful and the guidelines that we’ll set out tomorrow will demonstrate that, including guidelines that people are expected to wear masks in indoor enclosed spaces. 

And of course to remain vigilant with your hands and face and just remember that we all act responsibly as we did with the vaccination program. …

We can come together and deal with this pandemic in a way that is responsible, by thinking about our own actions and how they impact other people, including people who may be immunocompromised.

Whether or not people are guided by this “expectation”, masks will still need to be worn in a number of settings as businesses have been told they will be allowed to set their own rules.

Stop Press: The Vaccines Minister has also denied reports this morning that the gap between Covid vaccine doses will be cut down to four weeks. He told Sky News: “The eight-week interval offers that additional fortification in terms of protection with the two doses much better than having the interval shortened any further.”

Face Masks to Stay in Wales After Lockdown Easing

Wales will not be joining England in ending mask-wearing rules when it reaches Step Four of its roadmap out of lockdown, the Welsh Executive has announced. Restrictions will continue on public transport – and possibly even in retail – “to help keep us all safe”. BBC News has the story.

[The Welsh Executive] said if Wales moved from “Alert Level One” to “Zero”, coverings would still be mandatory on public transport and in health and social care settings.

It added a decision was yet to be made on mandating face masks in shops. …

Education Minister Jeremy Miles wrote to all schools in Wales on Friday to say wearing face coverings in the classroom will no longer be recommended from September.

Wales is currently at Alert Level One, which means face coverings are mandatory in all indoor public places.

The Welsh Government’s next 21-day review of the coronavirus regulations is due to take place on Wednesday.

It has been under pressure to announce a date for ending Covid restrictions after England announced a target of July 19th, and Scotland said it planned to lift remaining legal restrictions on August 9th.

The Welsh Government said Wednesday’s review would “set out whether restrictions can be relaxed in some indoor places, including people’s homes”.

Meanwhile, ministers are due to publish an updated Coronavirus Control Plan, setting out what will happen once Wales moves into Alert Level Zero.

First Minister Mark Drakeford said: “We will need everyone’s help to keep coronavirus under control as we continue to respond to the pandemic – this virus has quite certainly not gone away.

“We know many people are still worried and anxious about going out. We will maintain the requirement to wear face coverings in certain places – on public transport and health and social care settings, and others where necessary – to help keep us all safe.”

Worth reading in full.

News Round-Up