Hand hygiene and sick leave ‘baselines’ for life with Covid – Vallance

Jess Glass, PA
·2-min read

Regular hand washing and recommending people stay home from work if they feel ill may become “baselines” of future life with Covid, the Government’s chief scientific adviser has said.

At Monday’s Downing Street press conference, Sir Patrick Vallance, the Prime Minister and Professor Chris Whitty all gave insights into future life with coronavirus.

Discussing the future of social distancing, chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick said: “I think one has to understand what that might mean longer term.

Chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance
Chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance (Hollie Adams/PA)

“And it probably means things like hand hygiene and the fact people will take time off if they get ill and stay at home rather than going into work, testing to know if you’ve got it or not.

“Those sorts of things are likely to be important baseline measures going forward.”

Questions were also raised about the future of physical distancing in the pandemic going forward.

When asked about when hugging and other interactions could resume, Professor Whitty said current coronavirus rates were still too high.

“The number of people who actually have the virus at the moment is about one in 370 so we really want to get those rates down further before we start to feel that society as a whole has a low level of Covid,” he said.

He also stressed that Covid-19 will be with us “for the foreseeable future” even as the risk is reduced with vaccines.

Professor Whitty continued: “I think the thing which has surprised me, if anything, is the speed with which we’ve got the number of vaccines we have, rather than the fact we’ve still got the virus now.

“We will have significant problems with Covid for the foreseeable future and I don’t think we should pretend otherwise.”

In the press conference, Boris Johnson also indicated that life after June 21 involving continuous Covid-19 testing would not be “too onerous”.

He said: “I think a great deal depends on the continuing success of the vaccine rollout and us continuing to satisfy the four tests.

“If things continue to go well, I do think for many people in many ways, life will begin to get back to at least some semblance of normality.”

Mr Johnson added: “A world in which we continue to have testing is not going to be too onerous.”