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The run-down on what’s going on with all sorts of things Coronavirus, to clear up the confusion.
Who can get tested?
Anybody who needs one (see below). People living in England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland are eligible. They’re free, and they’re provided by the NHS. The nasal swab test will tell you if you currently have the virus. If you want, you can go to a private clinic and get the antibody (blood) test, which will tell you if you’ve had the virus at any point. More here:
Who should get tested?
Anybody who has any of the symptoms (high temperature, new continuous cough, loss or change to sense of smell) should get a test and stay at home, keeping away from social contact with others. If you live in England and have been told to get tested by a hospital. If you live, work or study somewhere where there is a current outbreak. There’s more here.
What’s the chance I’ve had it?
It’s tricky to say. One way to work it out is to calculate the number of people who’ve had it in a given population. Antibody prevalence data indicate that some locations have had as many as 20% of the population infected at some point, whilst the UK as a whole averages to between 5 and 10%. But these results are based on a small sample size, and it’s not known what proportion of people who’ve had the virus actually make the antibodies that the test picks up.
If you lost your smell (or notices substantial changes to this sense) at some point for a few weeks, then it’s possible you’ve had Covid-19. Anosmia is fairly rare, and so it has been identified as a fairly strong indicator for prior Coronavirus infection.
If you were in a household or in close contact with other people who have tested positive, then it’s also more likely that you’ve had it.
Will the vaccine work?
It’s likely that if the Oxford vaccine doesn’t work as required, one of the several projects across the world will, eventually. The hard parts are proving that the vaccine is safe (which takes a while), and then sorting out production and distribution on a huge scale. We’ll need multiple vaccine projects to protect the whole world.
Can I book a holiday?
There’s a lot of confusion on this one. The important thing is that the advice changes very frequently, and you need to keep up to date with it before you book, before you fly out, and before you fly back.
Staycations should be fine. Road trips are allowed, and camping venues have opened up. Most UK hotels are now open again. Most beaches, parks, and beauty spots are now open, too.
Travelling abroad is more complex. Bottom line, a lot of Europe is now ‘travelable’, but nations can decide who they let in. Check this pamphlet before you travel: Be aware that travelling against the FCO’s guidance risks invalidating travel insurance.
Once you get there, it probably won’t feel exactly like a normal holiday. Expect lots of hand sanitiser. Definitely bring a big supply of face masks. Beaches will probably be a little less crowded than usual. But tourism is very important to a lot of European economies — local businesses will be doing their best to make service as normal as possible. Chances are, you’ll have a fantastic time.
Can I go to restaurants?
Yes, and you should. This August you’ll get a chunk of your food bill taken off if you eat in a participating restaurant from Monday to Wednesday. Eat out, and support businesses! More here:
What’s the rule on masks?
As of the 24th July, it is compulsory to wear a face-covering in shops. The penalty for not doing so is a fine of up to £100. One is advised to wear a face-covering where social distancing is not possible, or otherwise where the likelihood of close contact with persons outside of your household is seen as high. We cannot predict how this guidance is likely to change over time. Please refer to the government site here:
Will a face mask like this help me?
Civilian, disposable face masks, like Signature Masks, are intended to act as a physical barrier to particulates travelling between persons. These masks help in protecting those around you by ‘catching’ the airborne particles that you could transfer to others, and to surfaces which could then act as sources of transmission. If people stick to wearing masks in closed situations, the rate of disease transmission will be reduced.
Will I get given a free face mask in a place that I need one?
A hotel? A plane? A lounge? A spa? A shop? It depends. Some places will offer masks to customers, but most won’t. It’s best to carry your own, and take a couple if you think you might be out for a while. For safety reasons, you shouldn’t try and reuse a disposable face mask. Wear them well, but wear them once.