Get ready for a COVID-19 Christmas: 7 tips to stay safe this festive season

December 14, 2020

This article has not been updated recently

The year 2020 has been unlike any other. Nearly 65 million people around the world have been infected with the COVID-19 virus that has, tragically, killed more than 1.5 million people. Many more have been left with long term health problems

Unfortunately, the need to protect our loved ones from COVID-19 will continue throughout the festive period. Here are our top tips to stay safe:

1. Spot all the symptoms of COVID-19

There’s more to COVID-19 than the three ‘classic’ symptoms of fever, persistent cough and loss of smell or taste. One in five people never have these. So although we have logged over 20 symptoms related to COVID, you should also look out for these:

  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of appetite
  • Muscle pains
  • Diarrhoea
  • Confusion (delirium)
  • Skin rash

If you develop any symptoms that might be COVID-19, don't take a risk - you and your household must isolate immediately and ideally get a test as soon as possible.

2. Test your senses

Loss of smell or taste is one of the key early symptoms of COVID-19 and is the best predictor of infection. You can easily test yourself every day by taking a good sniff of something strong-smelling, such as coffee or scented candles or soap. 

Check out our videos featuring our supporters Dame Judi Dench, Dame Emma Thompson, and Robert Lindsay sniffing their favourite things. Why not share with your family and friends to encourage them to test their sense of smell too before you all meet up?

3. Download and use the ZOE COVID Symptom Study app

Log your health daily in the ZOE COVID Symptom Study app. This simple, easy routine will help you be aware of any new symptoms and the need to self-isolate or get a test.

Please encourage your family and friends to download the ZOE COVID Symptom Study app too, to help us build an accurate picture of what’s going on with COVID-19 rates across the UK through Christmas and into the new year.

Remember to change your location in the app if you are travelling for Christmas and reset it when you get back home. This helps keep our data accurate about how cases are changing across the country. You can change your location settings in your profile. 

4. Stick to your Christmas bubble

Make sure you follow the guidelines on social gatherings in your area. Avoid mixing too much between households and, in the UK, stick to your ‘Christmas bubble’. Guidelines differ between areas, so make sure to stay up to date with the latest rules for your area here

Even if you follow all the rules, there’s still a risk you might transmit the virus to vulnerable friends or family members.

5. Elbow bump your Gran this Christmas

She’s dying for a kiss and a cuddle, but opt safer ways to show affection to family members, like bumping elbows or sending an air kiss from across the room.

Social distancing, washing your hands frequently, and wearing a face covering can all help protect your loved ones and stop the virus from spreading. 

Many people who catch coronavirus don’t develop any symptoms, but they can still be infectious and pass it on to other people. We know it’s tough, but try and limit close contact like hugging and kissing.

6. Celebrate outdoors

Ventilation is an important factor in disease spread. Because COVID-19 spreads in small airborne droplets, transmission is easier in closed, indoor environments. 

Research has shown that being in a room with fresh air can reduce the risk of infection by over 70%. If you can, take your gathering outside to the garden or open as many windows as possible. Walking daily with the family outside as much as possible is another way to stay healthy.

7. Eat well and be merry

It’s been a strange year, and we all deserve some time to relax and enjoy some Christmas cheer. Eating well to nourish your body and look after your gut health will help you stay healthy through the festive season.

Your gut microbiome (the bugs that live in your gut) forms an essential part of your immune system

One of the best ways to support your microbiome is to make sure you eat a diverse range of plants. Luckily this includes many traditional Christmas staples like Brussels sprouts, potatoes, parsnips, carrots, mixed nuts and fruits and berries as well as fermented foods like cheese. Even dark chocolate and red wine (in moderation) are good for your gut health - so tuck in and enjoy!

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