The End of Isolation in England-BBC Radio Sheffield Interview 11th February 2022

I was recently interviewed on BBC Radio Sheffield by Toby Foster who does the breakfast show. I attach links of the interview in this blog.

My daughter Melissa and I were first interviewed in April 2020. You will also hear parts of this interview on the link below. The interview in 2020 was about Melissa isolating in her room as she had viral symptoms. There was no testing available for Covid 19 at that stage as only those who were admitted into hospital were tested. The assumption was if you had viral symptoms it was Covid 19. It was the law that the individual and members of the family isolated.

My older daughter Kirsty was one of the first 1.5 million people who were classified as extremely vulnerable and therefore had to shield at home. By June 2020, over 2 million people were advised to shield.

Radio Sheffield were keen to know how the Pime Minister’s announcement of ending self isolation for those who are Covid Positive would affect Kirsty and the family. This ruling was meant to be reviewed on 24th March 2022 but it has now been brought forward by a month to the 24th of February.

After 2 years of ‘living with the virus’ it feels a bit unbelieveable that ‘normality’ might be approaching us sooner than we thought.

It would be great for us to go back to living as we did. I expect it would take me a bit of time adjusting back to a life with no Covid restrictions.

However what will this mean to those who are clinically vulnerable? How do they start living in a society that may expose them to Covid 19?

Please listen to Melissa’s and my interview on the links below.

Melissa developed symptoms of Covid 19 the day after the interview on the 11th of February 2022. As I write this, she is still isolating in her room at Day 9. So that’s twice now in under 2 years Melissa has had to confine herself to her room. She isn’t unwell thankfully but it couldn’t have come at a worse time for her. She was meant to be on her half term holidays.The rule of coming out of isolation after a Day 5 negative lateral flow test wasn’t in her favour. She waits patiently in her room, hoping every morning she would be testing negative on her lateral flow test.

The World Health Organisation still suggests a 14 day isolation. The length of isolation has gradually reduced in England for those who have had both Covid 19 Vaccines. If you have 2 negative lateral flow tests before the 10 day isolation ends you can come out of isolation. Those who are not double vaccinated have to still isolate for 10 days.

There are still high numbers of positive cases reported daily. Significant numbers of people are still dying. The NHS has high numbers of staff off work due to illness brought about by Covid. The lack of staff will only cause even more disruption in the provision of an effective health care service either in acute conditions or in catching up on routine surgeries that have been delayed for up to a year or more already.

So what happens when society mixes again with no restrictions. If you are one of those whose symptoms are mild then I guess life will move on as ‘normal’ for you. You will be able to return to work, get on public transport and socialise as someone who doesn’t have Covid 19. And without needing to wear a mask either. But what if you happen to come into contact with someone who is clinically vulnerable, or even not clinically vulnerable . Those who have Covid are not able to predict how unwell they would be or if they would encounter post Covid or long Covid effects. Vulnerable or not, it is unpredictable to know what your symptoms will be.

As a doctor, I question if this is the right decision to be made at this point in time. Questioning the scientific evidence behind any decisions made around health is just what I would do. I somehow can’t help but feel it is a decision that has been plucked out from nowhere. Why have we not heard the scientisis advising the government come forward and reassure us?

The more people out and about infected wth Covid, the numbers infected will rise and I would have thought that will only put more pressure on the economy, health and education system.  Once again we will encounter the shortages in the workfoce. Not everyone may be well enough to go to work.

I agree we need to ‘live with Covid’. We all need to get back to the freedom we are used to. However I believe there needs to be more guidance on how to protect the vulnerable. Will masks be reintroduced in certain conditions? Should health care workers who are positive with Covid continue working and having contact with patients? Will there be access to free lateral flow testing in certain circumstances? I hope some of these uncertainties will be addressed clearly today by the government.

As a society we have a responsibility to protect each other. 

A healthy community can only contribute to the economy in a positive way.

As a family we have been going out socially and meeting up with family and friends in the last few months. However, we do it cautiously. Lateral flow testing is now just a part of our daily routine before meet others or go to work.

I was told by friends recently who live in Australia that we in the UK are privileged to be able to have free access to lateral flow tests. It is easy to order online and delivered within 7 days. We also have had a great vaccination programme that has involved the NHS and the many volunteers who played a valuable role in making this a success. I am grateful for these privileges. However only 71% of our population have been fully vaccinated and there are 49 countries ahead of us in terms of vaccination rates.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-56237778

Toby Foster on BBC Sheffield made a really important point. Whatever your views are about the end of isolation. However you choose to get on with life, think about the people around you and what their individual needs may be.

Being clinically vulnerable doesn’t mean one’s life is less worthy . On the other hand, not being vulnerable doesn’t mean one is resistant to ill health.

I finally want to thank Melissa for once again giving up so much to protect her sister Kirsty, Neil (my husband) and I. We couldn’t be prouder of you darling. You are a great sister and daughter. But most of all you are a responsible, kind, brave and strong individual. We love you so much.

If you are clinically vulnerable, it would be great to hear what you think about these changes and how it will change you life.

Have a good week.

#Covid19 #MondayThoughts #isolation #family

Published by JH_blogger

British doctor, wife and Mum to 2 daughters, Kirsty and Melissa. I published my first book in 2020 'Our Family's Journey Through Disability and Cancer . Buy now https://www.amazon.co.uk/Familys-Journey-Through-Disability-Cancer

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