Test and Trace Boss Tells Public Not to Socialise Unless Necessary

In an interview on BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme, Dr. Jenny Harries, the Chief Executive of the U.K. Health Security Agency as well as the Head of the NHS Test and Trace scheme, said that the public must not attend social gatherings if they “don’t particularly need to” in order to restrict the transmission of the Omicron variant. Harries also called on all those eligible to receive booster jabs to go and get one and play their part in the fight against Covid. WalesOnline has the story.

Dr Jenny Harries, Chief Executive of the U.K. Health Security Agency (UKHSA), told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that people could do their bit by reducing the number of social contacts they have.

She said that even if our “vaccines appear to be effective, but we find that the variant is more highly transmissible, having lowish grade infection, but in very large numbers of the population, (it) could still be a significant impact on our hospitals.

“And of course, our behaviours in winter and particularly around Christmas we tend to socialise more so I think all of those will need to be taken into account.”

Asked about working from home, she said: “We’ve seen that not everybody has gone back to work and I’d like to think of it more in a general way, which is if we all decrease our social contacts a little bit, actually that helps to keep the variant at bay.

So I think being careful, not socialising when we don’t particularly need to and particularly going and getting those booster jobs which, of course, people will now be able to have at a three-month interval from their primary course.

Worth reading in full.

Stop Press: As of today, the Government has brought back mask mandates to a wide array of public settings. A full list can be found here.

Stop Press 2: The crackdown on non-mask wearers on the London tube has begun. MailOnline has more.

Stop Press 3: The Government has rebuked Dr. Harries and distanced itself from her remarks. According to the Telegraph:

Boris Johnson insisted “we’re not going to change the overall guidance, we don’t think that’s necessary”, when he was asked about comments by Dr. Jenny Harries, the Chief Executive of the U.K. Health Security Agency, who had urged people to avoid socialising “unless you need to” in the run up to Christmas.

Downing Street also heavily distanced itself from her remarks, with the PM’s official spokesman stressing: “It’s not our advice to the public currently. You’ll know the measures we set out at the weekend. The UK HSA is an arms-length body of Government, and Jenny Harries provides advice to the Government, she is not a Government minister. The public should follow the guidance as set out by the Government and indeed the Prime Minister at the weekend.

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