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Public Health Scotland urges people to postpone Christmas parties amid virus outbreaks

Christmas parties should be postponed, Public Health Scotland has said.
Christmas parties should be postponed, Public Health Scotland has said.

Public Health Scotland has asked people to postpone their Christmas parties to “another time” when Covid – and the Omicron variant in particular – poses less of a threat.

The organisation, which is in charge of gathering data relating to the coronavirus pandemic, said several outbreaks had already been linked to such gatherings.

Since the end of November, 109 cases of the variant have been confirmed in Scotland, with four in the NHS Grampian health board area and nine in NHS Highland.

Dr Nick Phin, the medical director and head of public health science at PHS said: “There is much that we still need to learn about Omicron, but early evidence suggests that this new Covid variant is much more transmissible.

“The impact of this transmissibility has been seen in recent weeks, with a number of Omicron outbreaks linked to parties.

“We still need to learn more about the severity of disease caused by Omicron and the effectiveness of vaccines, but there are important things that we can do to help protect ourselves and our families now.”

He added: “I appreciate that everyone is keen to celebrate this festive season, particularly after the pressures of the last twenty months, but by postponing some plans we can all do our bit to protect ourselves and our loved ones.”

The call was met with disappointment from the Scottish Hospitality Group, which tweeted it was a “grim dark day” for the sector.

PM says ‘OK to keep going’ with parties

The advice from PHS comes a day after Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the events should not be cancelled.

At a Downing Street news conference on Wednesday, Mr Johnson said: “We think that it’s OK, currently on what we can see, to keep going with Christmas parties.

“But obviously, everyone should exercise due caution, have ventilation, wash your hands, get a test before you go.”

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