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Being cautious is the best thing you can do this Christmas

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Few times of the year are as challenging or stressful for families and relationships as Christmas. This year we face the additional pressures of the pandemic and the government’s ambiguous Covid-19 Christmas guidance, which seems to encourage families and friends to meet in their homes and travel over a five-day period, while at the same time pushing the responsibility for those decisions on to individuals themselves. It’s both confusing to know what to do and clear that although the government has permitted us to do certain things, this doesn’t necessarily mean we ought to.

As a public health expert, I’ve repeatedly been asked what families should do over the holidays. I’m torn between giving people the emotionally reassuring and comforting answer they want to hear or sticking bluntly to the best scientific evidence we have about transmission and suppression. While independent scientists are one of the few groups who can be unpopular and forthright, politicians are stuck in an unenviable dilemma: tell people what they need to hear based on the facts, or tell them what they want to hear based on emotion.

The truth is the virus that causes Covid-19 does not care that it is Christmas or New Year’s Eve. It rapidly spreads indoors and in poorly ventilated settings, particularly in households, when people gather together informally in........

© The Guardian

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