Our hospitals are braced for a wave of Omicron admissions
22 December 2021
Over the weekend, London's public health director described Omicron as the 'most significant threat' since the start of the pandemic.
The highly contagious COVID-19 variant is ripping through the city - so much so that the Mayor of London has declared a major incident in the capital.
I know it's an inconvenient truth, with Christmas bearing down on us, but the situation is grave.
Although we have not yet been told to lockdown, it is up to all of us to understand the risks and to make informed choices to keep ourselves, our families and our communities safe.
Last week Professor Chris Whitty talked about 'prioritising the activities that are most important to you'. If you desperately want Christmas dinner with your family on the 25th, think carefully about where you go in the run-up to the holidays to avoid having to isolate.
- Get fully vaccinated - anyone over 18 can now book or walk-in for their first, second or booster jab. Click here for your booking and walk-in options locally. Vaccination will give you the best protection against becoming seriously ill with the virus, and it is never too late to have your first. Apart from Christmas Day and Boxing Day, you will find somewhere to get vaccinated every day over the holidays.
- Test, test, test - not everyone with COVID-19 has symptoms so if you do choose to meet up with people, take a rapid lateral flow test beforehand. You can pick up tests from local pharmacies, visit a testing site, or have test kits posted to your home. You may be eligible for financial support if you are asked to isolate.
- Outdoors is safer - COVID-19 is mainly spread through particles in the air. If you are socialising, it is safer to meet up with people outside. In enclosed or crowded spaces, wear a mask - this is the law in shops and on public transport, because we know face coverings are effective.
I would love to bring you better news this festive season, but these are urgent public health messages. They cannot wait until the tinsel has come down.
I want to take this time to say a huge thank you to all of the keyworkers in Brent, many of whom will continue to put their lives at risk to keep us safe over Christmas. We may have stopped clapping you every Thursday, but please know that we value everything you do in our care homes, in our hospitals, and on our streets.
To all of those celebrating, I wish you a very happy, safe Christmas. Do look after each other - especially neighbours who might be on their own - and I hope next year these well-wishes will come with fewer warnings attached.
Cllr Muhammed Butt, Leader of Brent Council