There’s no need to cancel Christmas parties, the UK’s Health Secretary Sajid Javid said on Wednesday after a government health agency chief advised against unnecessary socialising.
In a series of media appearances on Wednesday, the health secretary told Sky News that people should “continue to behave in the way they were planning to behave over Christmas.”
Javid said the current government guidance already advised people that the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, as well as the flu, thrives in winter weather as it gets darker and colder.
He also told people to be “sensible” and advised taking a lateral flow test (LFT) before going to parties.
“If you are invited to a Christmas party, there’s [sic] quite a few people there, maybe you want to take an LFT test before you go. Go to the party, but just be cautious,” he told BBC Radio 4’s “Today” programme.
Asked if he would wear a mask if he was at a party, Javid said: “It depends if I am walking around or sitting down. It depends if I’m eating. People just need to make a decision based on the guidance.”
After the Omicron variant of the CCP virus was discovered, the UK government brought back to England mandatory face coverings for shops and public transport and mandatory 10-day self-isolation for anyone in contact with a suspected Omicron case.
But it stopped short of bringing in the full plan B of its COVID winter plan, which involves vaccine passports and asking people to work from home.
Dr. Jenny Harries, chief executive of the UK’s Health Security Agency (UKHSA), told the “Today” programme on Tuesday that it’s advisable to reduce unnecessary socialising.
“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,” she said.
Asked what he thought about the health chief’s comment, Javid told “BBC Breakfast” he believes the government has taken a “balanced and proportionate approach.”
“Like many other scientists and experts that we have, you know, they will have their views and opinions,” Javid said.
“But it’s for government to then to listen to all of these and take a balanced and proportionate approach, and that is exactly what we have done.”
The health secretary also said he’s not anticipating another “pingdemic” with people being told to self-isolate after contact with an infected individual.
“At this point in time the case numbers are very low. That will certainly go up but the numbers are low. I hope it stays that way. I’m not worried about a ‘pingdemic’ type of situation,” Javid told Sky News.
The government is due to review the restrictions in three weeks.
PA contributed in this report.