5 health tips for this festive season

We are now in a very good position in Australia in our fight against COVID-19. When we wrote this, we had very few active cases and there was no transfer from the community. Besides, it’s summer, and the vaccine doesn’t seem too far away.

After the year we’ve been through, many of us probably want to celebrate this holiday season.

Of course, it is important to adhere to the limits on the number of people who can gather in your state or territory. But easing restrictions across the country now allow for larger gatherings with our family and friends.

As we enter the holiday spirit, it is also important to think about how we can spend this year’s celebrations in a COVID-safe way.

Basics

Before we get to a few tips, we’ll summarize a few key things we know about how COVID-19 can spread.

First, we know that close contact is a major risk factor for the spread of COVID-19. This is because droplet propagation plays a key role in transmission.

So, for example, when an infected person coughs or sneezes, infectious droplets can land on you or the environment. Then if you touch your face or nearby contaminated surfaces, you can get the virus into your body by touching your mouth or rubbing your eyes.

In an enclosed space with poor ventilation, there is growing evidence that COVID spreads by airborne transmission, and this is when droplets of smaller size (aerosols) remain in the air longer.

The risk of COVID is less when we are out.
Shutterstock

5 risk reduction tips

  1. If there’s one thing we’ve learned this year, it’s that he’s not a heroic soldier if you’re sick. If you feel bad, stay home. This applies to you and your guests. If you are a host and you are not feeling well, look for another place or cancel

  2. Plan an outdoor gathering – the risk of transmission is significantly lower outdoors. We should make the most of the Christmas fall in Australia

  3. If you are hosting an indoor gathering, dine in your largest room or spread it all out in a few rooms. Open windows and doors to get some fresh air and, most importantly, increase ventilation

  4. Avoid the crowds of sitting at a table. Set up a few extra legs or camp tables to accommodate people

  5. Encourage your guests to frequent hand hygiene. Stock up on hand sanitizers and soaps and make them available in all rooms and outside, especially if people are eating food.



Read more: This video shows how easily COVID-19 could spread when people sing together


And a few more things …

Sing

If you feel particularly cheerful, you may be tempted to turn up the music and single out a few songs. But keep in mind that singing and shouting can expel more contagious drops than normal speech.

So, if you’re going to perform a lavish performance of Deck the Halls, maybe this is something to do outside, not in an overcrowded room or near food.

Hugs and kisses

No one wants to be a grinch on Christmas, but keeping close contact to a minimum – including in the form of hugs and kisses – will help reduce the risk. Under the mistletoe or otherwise.



Read more: No, a hug is not COVID-safe. But if you have to do it, here’s what you have to keep in mind


Food and drink

Ideally, reduce food sharing, including things like buffets. You can ask guests to bring their own food, but this is not necessarily practical or festive. Given the low prevalence of COVID-19 in Australia, it is probably reasonable to serve your guests, provided you are careful.

When preparing food, either for your gathering or to go to someone, don’t forget to maintain regular hand hygiene. And avoid preparing food if you feel unwell.

The woman uses a hand sanitizer.
Hand hygiene is especially important when preparing food.
Shutterstock

With the celebrated cocktails, champagne, beer, wine and soft drinks likely to show up that day, it will mean lots of glasses lying around. It is important that people do not share drinks. Using labels on glasses can help people remember which one is theirs.

Cricket in the yard

Time to play yard cricket after lunch? You can use the trash can as stumps, and over the fence it’s still six and out. But avoid spitting on a cricket ball.

A little balance

We have endured a year of rules and recommendations to protect ourselves and others. This year nothing has been normal and we may need a little more thinking about our Christmas and New Year celebrations. We may have to come up with some reasonable and practical compromises in the way we celebrate.

Christmas gatherings pose a significant risk – close, long-lasting contact with people, often indoors. During 2020, we again saw how these factors contribute to the transmission of COVID-19.

We definitely deserve to have a little fun during the festive season, and so well under the control of COVID in Australia, we are in a good place to celebrate. But it is still important to be vigilant during this period, so that we start 2021 with our right foot.



Read more: How to reduce the risk of COVID-19 on the beach or pool


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