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COVID-19 Considering Risk factors when planning Festive activities


In the lead up to Christmas we are undoubtedly planning for the occasion, with additional shopping and deciding what events, family gatherings and other events we will be attending. Compared to last year there are far fewer Covid-19 restrictions in place, so far greater freedom in deciding our activities. However some activities may present greater exposure to contracting Covid-19 than others. It is all to do with risk.

Nearly all the eligible population (except those 11 and under) have already been fully vaccinated and some have received the booster and flu vaccines. There are some people however who still have no, or limited, protection against the new coronavirus. There are activities and areas of the country that pose greater risk than others.

We have learned to live with covid-19 among us. Even with some limitations, you can go to a restaurant, gym or cinema.

However, the emergence of new variants of the virus and current increases in incidence rates may change this reality and force the cancellation of some of this seasons events, as has already happened in some municipalities. For now, the number of admissions, both in intensive care and in wards, remains far from the limit established by experts consulted by the Government and far below the same period last year. The Christmas and New Year periods will be decisive.

The desire for a gradual return to normality does not mean that the virus has disappeared from our lives. Every trip to the restaurant, supermarket, cinema or participation in a social event carries a risk, which varies depending on your health condition, whether you have already been vaccinated, where you live and, of course, how many people will be with you and how they behave.

If you undertake these activities, the above risk factors determine the level to which you may become exposed to contracting Covid-19 and the potential level of seriousness. A major factor is health and if you suffer from: hypertension, diabetes, asthma, kidney disease, heart disease, lung disease or cancer these are the types of conditions that according to DGS increase the risk; plus factors such as being overweight or if you smoke.

If you undertake these activities, these risk factors determine the level to which you may become exposed to contracting Covid-19 and the level of seriousness.

A low risk does not mean that you cannot suffer any harm from the disease, just as a high risk does not mean that you suffer.

Keep in mind that, even if you are not at high individual risk, there is always the risk of infecting others who are more vulnerable and causing them harm (the extent and severity of which you cannot predict or foresee). Precaution in managing the risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection is a collective responsibility.

For example, if you are over 70 years of age, have various diseases and have not fully completed a Covid-19 vaccination and thinking of going to a gathering in a group with others, in a municipality with a high incidence rate, where people may not all be wearing masks all the time and social distancing is not possible, then the risk is likely to be very high.

However, if you are going shopping, in a municipality with a low incidence rate, are younger in age, no health conditions, fully vaccinated and will be wearing a mask all the time then the risk in comparison is much lower.

These are just two examples, the purpose being to illustrate when considering what activities you wish to undertake, to also consider the risk factors together with your potential exposure to others who maybe more vulnerable.

We wish everyone a very happy and safe Christmas and New Year

David Thomas

President Safe Communities Portugal