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Holiday Season During the Pandemic

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Holiday Season During the Pandemic

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Social distancing, lockdowns, and restrictions on gatherings due to the COVID-19 pandemic had isolated many people and resulted in stress. Read the article below.

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Vandana Patidar

Published At November 20, 2020
Reviewed AtMarch 6, 2023

Introduction

During the holiday seasons, family meals and small gatherings in the living room might seem to be the best opportunity to reconnect with our family and friends. But, doctors and scientists are worried that such holiday gatherings will accelerate the pandemic if people do not stick to proper respiratory etiquette and physical distancing. There is no such thing as a safe way for families to gather during such a pandemic, especially with the number of cases rising worldwide. The SARS-CoV-2 virus is highly infectious, so no in-person communication is without risk. But the risk can be reduced by making slight alterations like celebrating outdoors rather than indoors, wearing masks at all times, getting vaccinated, avoiding hugs and handshakes, and inviting fewer people.

What Are the Things to Consider Before Attending Family Gatherings?

Celebrating festivals with family members living together or virtually carries the lowest risk for spread. Gatherings with friends and family members who do not currently live together is considered risky. Before attending a party or dinner gathering, the following things should be taken into consideration, as these factors will determine the level of risk involved.

  1. The Current Levels of COVID-19 - The risk of COVID-19 spread is more if there are increasing or high levels of COVID-19 cases in the place of the gathering and also in the areas where other members are coming from.

  2. The Duration of the Event - Longer gatherings pose more risk than those that last shorter. Standing closer to someone within 6 feet for a total time of 15 minutes or more increases the risk of getting infected.

  3. The Number of People Attending - People should be invited, keeping in mind the available space and attendees' ability to stay 6 feet apart.

  4. Exposure While Traveling to the Location - A person can get exposed to the virus while traveling. Trains, airplanes, buses, and all other public transportation carries risk. Lunch breaks and rest stops while traveling in a private car can also infect a person.

  5. Location of the Event - Small and enclosed places are the worst, as poor ventilation can result in the rapid spread of the virus. Outdoor gatherings are better, and if it is indoors, ensure that it is properly ventilated.

  6. If the Guests Follow Safety Measures - Be sure that all the invited guests follow proper safety measures before or during the event. Also, using alcohol and drugs can make it difficult to follow safety tips.

  7. Vaccination - Last but not least, make sure the guests invited are vaccinated with both the doses and the booster dose (if eligible) to avoid unnecessary infection spread.

Who Should Avoid Attending Holiday Gatherings in-Person?

Avoid hosting or attending holiday gatherings if a person or anyone in the house are at high risk of getting severe COVID-19 infection. The following people should avoid attending holiday gatherings in-person:

  1. People with symptoms of COVID-19, such as cough, fever, etc.

  2. Individuals who are waiting for COVID-19 test results.

  3. COVID-19 positive patients.

  4. Those who have been exposed to a COVID-19 patient in the last two weeks.

  5. Pregnant women, immunocompromised people, cancer patients, and people with any underlying chronic condition should also consider the risk of getting infected.

  6. People who are not vaccinated yet can better avoid such gatherings to avoid infection.

In case the loved ones are unable to attend in person, they can celebrate virtually through a video call.

Safety Tips for In-Person Gatherings:

The following steps will prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus during holiday gatherings -

Tips for the Host:

  1. Keep extra masks, hand sanitizers (more than 60 % alcohol), and tissues ready, so the guests can use them.

  2. If possible, place markers on the floor at every 6 feet to remind people of social distancing.

  3. Along with the invitation, send a list of do's and don'ts, which should list all things to do and avoid to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

  4. Request all the guests to carry a bag to keep their masks while they are eating.

Tips During the Event:

  1. Keep a safe distance from friends and family. Do not gather around one table. The host can put up multiple tables and chairs to prevent crowding.

  2. Avoid gathering near the restroom and eating areas.

  3. Do not hug or shake hands. Wave or greet them verbally.

  4. For kids, plan activities that do not require them to stand too close or hurdle. Examples include playing Frisbee.

  5. Even if they are friends or family, do not forget to wear masks at all times, except while everyone is eating and drinking.

  6. Do not sing, shout, or chant without wearing a mask.

  7. Clean and wash the hands thoroughly prior to and after cooking or eating.

  8. Limit the number of people going near the place where food is being cooked. And avoid carrying drinks and food for others.

  9. Instead of self-service and buffet stations, let one person serve everything.

  10. Serve the guests food on disposable plates, cups, and utensils.

  11. Thoroughly clean and disinfect tabletops, doorknobs, handles, chairs, and other commonly touched surfaces.

  12. Keep touchless garbage cans, so the guests can dispose of tissues.

  13. Avoid pets coming in contact with people who do not live with them.

  14. Wear gloves while taking out the trash.

Tips After the Event:

It is best to take extra precautions for 14 days after attending such gatherings because of the current scenario. As much as possible, stay at home and avoid being around others. If a person develops symptoms of COVID-19, consider getting tested. In case a person tests positive, immediately inform the host and other guests that attended the party. This will reduce the spread of COVID-19, as others will be more careful, and will get themselves tested.

Everyone knows this requires a lot of planning. But a little effort can save family or friends' lives and minimize the risk of COVID-19.

Safety Tips for Travel and Overnight Stays:

In case a person is planning to travel or stay somewhere overnight during the holiday season, they should follow precautionary measures, such as washing their hands frequently, wearing a mask, opening the hotel rooms windows for ventilation, disinfecting (using disinfectant spray or wipes) all the surfaces that a person touches in the room, and carrying the food if possible.

It is advised not to travel or attend large gatherings until COVID is completely eradicated, as the risk is too high. Instead, a person can:

  1. Send gifts or cards online.

  2. Celebrate through video or audio calls.

  3. Share a meal remotely.

Conclusion

This indeed is not the ideal way to celebrate any festival, but it will be memorable in a different way. Even though scientists have found COVID-19 vaccines and most of the population are already vaccinated, they still advise all people to wear masks, social distancing, wash hands frequently, and avoid gatherings so that the further spread will eventually be avoided. By following these instructions, people would once again hug and meet people they love in person. But until then, stay safe and have a healthy holiday season.

Frequently Asked Questions

1.

Is Traveling Acceptable During COVID?

Traveling internationally may still raise the chances of contracting a new COVID-19 strain. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), travel should be avoided until all COVID-19 vaccine doses and boosters have been received.

2.

What Occurs if A Person Test Positive While Travelling?

If a person tests positive for COVID-19 while traveling, they may be required to isolate or quarantine themselves to prevent further transmission of the virus. This could involve staying in a designated quarantine facility, a hotel, or even at their own accommodation, depending on the severity of their symptoms and the local regulations.

3.

Is It Currently Safe to Fly?

Now, commercial flights are secure. In addition, the danger of COVID-19 transmission on aircraft is extremely low, due to several protective measures, including face masks and regular cleaning.

4.

What Are the Symptoms of COVID 2022?

A loss of taste or smell may be one of the first signs of COVID-19. Breathing difficulties, shortness of breath, and muscular pain are examples of other symptoms.

5.

How Soon Can One Travel After Receiving a Positive Test Result?

Once isolation is over, people can go on vacation. But, until it is safe for them to remove their mask around others, they should wear a high-quality mask or respirator while they are indoors with other people. Avoid taking public transportation like aircraft, buses, and trains if they cannot spend the entire trip wearing a good mask or respirator indoors near other people.

6.

To a Hotel, Should A Person Carry A Pillow?

A recovered person getting their pillow promotes greater cleanliness. However, the pillows inside the covers are typically not cleaned, even though hotels generally wash the pillowcases after each use by their customers. These might be sanitized occasionally, but it is not a typical practice in most hotels.

7.

Should A Person Continue to Use a Mask When Flying?

Wearing a mask while flying or using any public transport is preferable, but wearing a mask while flying is no longer mandatory in India.

8.

How May COVID Be Made to Disappear More Quickly?

Take care of oneself by following the steps mentioned below:
- Maintain a routine, such as getting dressed and taking a shower.
- Spend time away from social media and COVID-19 news.
- Consume wholesome meals and get enough liquids.
- Stay active.
- Obtain lots of rest.
- Avoid using alcohol, cigarettes, and other drugs.

9.

When Is Omicron Most Contagious?

For most persons, the infectiousness peaks one day before the onset of symptoms and starts to decline around a week afterward. Compared to other versions, the Omicron form has a shorter incubation period. Days in between one to four is the incubation period for the Omicron version.

10.

How Soon Do the Signs of the Omicron Variety Appear?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the time it takes for an infected person to experience symptoms following exposure is less for the omicron variation than for earlier forms – from a full week down to as little as three days or less.

11.

Can You Get Omicron Outside?

You can get the omicron virus outdoors like any other covid variant. In general, the risk of contracting respiratory viruses, including COVID-19, is lower when outdoors compared to indoor settings. This is because outdoor spaces typically have better ventilation and allow for greater dispersion of respiratory droplets, reducing the likelihood of transmission.

12.

Do Vaccinated Individuals Need to Use Masks When Flying?

Yes, according to the CDC, everyone is required by everyone to wear masks while traveling on public transport. While vaccines significantly reduce the risk of severe illness and hospitalization, breakthrough infections can still occur, albeit at lower rates compared to unvaccinated individuals. Wearing masks adds an extra layer of protection and helps to reduce the potential spread of the virus.

13.

What Signs and Symptoms Do Completely Vaccinated People Have of Omicron?

Omicron symptoms may be comparable to the original COVID-19 virus and other subtypes, including a mix of fever, coughing, congestion, runny nose, headache, sore throat, exhaustion, and muscle pains.
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Dr. Vandana Patidar
Dr. Vandana Patidar

Psychiatry

Tags:

severe acute respiratory syndromehand hygiene
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