BRITS who feel unwell have been given permission by a top public health official to take more sick days.
Dr Jenny Harries urged people to recover at home, rather than take the more traditional approach of “grin and bear it” and go into the office.
The chief executive of the UK Health Security Agency made the comments as the threat of a rocky winter looms.
Dr Harries told Times Radio: “I think, particularly as we approach the flu season for example, whereas people traditionally in the UK have sort of grinned and borne their infectious disease and then gone into work and spread it around, I’m hoping that, as we go through winter, people when they are symptomatic will generally recognise that and stay away and be supported to do so.”
In the wake of the Covid pandemic, a growing number of experts and ministers have said people should be wary of spreading any type of virus, rather than “getting on with it”.
This includes common colds, which Brits tend to brush off.
More and more people are being struck down with nasty colds, norovirus and Covid, while flu season approaches.
Experts have warned the symptoms of Delta in those fully protected against the virus can be easily confused with a cold.
But there have been increasing calls for people to return to offices, after the pandemic caused a widespread switch to working from home.
At the recent Conservative Party conference Prime Minister Boris Johnson issued a fresh call for workers to return to “buzzing” town centres, adding “we will and must see people back in the office” as he continued his drive to end working from home.
He said workers would be “gossiped about” and “lose out” if they did not show up for face-to-face work more often.
But Dr Harries did not share the sentiment, saying there is likely to be a rise in Covid cases if everyone returns to work immediately.
“If everybody returned immediately to work without due consideration, then I think it’s likely we would see more cases over a short period of time, depending on whether they were wearing face coverings, whether they were taking appropriate precautions,” Dr Harries said.
“But, of course, most people are protected now, so even people who are doubly vaccinated are becoming infected, (but) they are not becoming seriously ill and they are not dying in the way that we saw previously.”
Dr Harries said there needed to be a “balance” between home and office-based working and ordering everyone back to their desks was not “responding to how individuals want to view their work”.
Scientific advisers have warned pushing for office-working would drive the outbreak, as it has been one of the most effective ways of slowing the spread of the virus over the pandemic
GET FLU JAB
Dr Harries also warned of a double whammy of Covid and flu this year.
Speaking to Trevor Phillips on Sky, Dr Harries said the public “should be worried about the flu each winter”.
“On average over the past five years, around 11,000 people have died [per year] with flu-related conditions,” she said.
“The important thing about this winter is that we’re likely to see flu, for the first time in any real numbers, co-circulating with Covid.
“The risks of both together still remain.
“The early evidence suggests you’re twice as likely to die from the two together than just Covid alone.”
She admitted the winter ahead is “uncertain”, with “relatively high” cases of Covid in the UK.
“We do monitor cases routinely, and we do have a relatively high starting point of Covid,” she said.
“It’s a high starting point to kick off winter.”
Last week, deputy chief medical officer, Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, warned all eligible Brits to get the flu jab.
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