July 1, 2022

these actions that minimize the risk of contamination

The Christmas celebrations will once again take place under the sign of Covid-19 this year. It is therefore important to know the actions that could prevent contamination during family reunions.

Like last year, the Christmas holidays and the traditional meals that accompany them will be disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic. On the one hand, this period is, once again, during an epidemic resumption, a fifth wave due to the Delta variant, to which is added the spread of the Omicron variant.

On the other hand, these events often lead to a mixing of the population with people from different regions and of different ages who intersect, and can transmit Covid-19. Several recommendations were therefore made to prevent this reunion, expected in many families, leading to new contamination.

Self-tests and antigenic tests before the meal

To those who will meet on Christmas Eve, the Scientific Council advises “to perform a self-test the same day or an antigen test the day before or the day of the event”, in order to detect potential unidentified cases, which could declare itself after the meal. Scientists even advise the organizers of the festivities to buy self-tests “by making them available as soon as the participants arrive. For the record, a self-test costs 5 euros”.

In order to avoid contamination, it is also advisable to limit contact in the days preceding the reunion with loved ones.

Upstream vaccination

Unsurprisingly, health authorities recommend getting vaccinated before finding relatives, especially with the booster dose. A person with a complete vaccination schedule is indeed less likely to catch and transmit the virus, but especially to make a serious case if he is infected.

You have to “ask the fragile people you invite if they have been vaccinated and especially if they have had their booster dose”, says doctor Alain Ducardonnet, health consultant for BFMTV.

“If this is not the case, it will absolutely be necessary to keep the mask as often as possible – of course not when you eat – and if possible an FFP2. Finally review the seating plan with perhaps more distance”.

Limit the number of guests

It is anyway recommended to limit the number of participants on Christmas Eve. “The fewer we are, the less risk we take,” said Prime Minister Jean Castex, “let’s avoid big parties, big gatherings or big dinners”.

The epidemiologist Arnaud Fontanet, also a member of the Scientific Council, thus advised on France Inter at the end of November “rather 6 people than 12” on Christmas Eve. But he called above all to pay attention to fragile people and to respect barrier gestures: ventilation, social distancing, wearing a mask, washing hands and coughing in his elbow.

According to an Elabe poll for BFMTV, L’Express and SFR, this year, “the French plan to celebrate Christmas with 7 people on average, including 6 adults / teenagers and 1 child”. And if you can’t decide who to invite, Arnaud Ducardonnet recommends “having several meals with fewer guests”.

Ventilate and wear a mask

During the meal, it is recommended to ventilate the rooms, at least 10 minutes every hour, the Scientific Council even advises to ventilate permanently if this is possible. Another measure, difficult to apply during a meal, but highlighted in the recommendations, is the wearing of a mask.

“The correct wearing of a surgical mask or, in certain circumstances (fragile and unvaccinated people), of an FFP2 type mask” is one of the “most useful measures for a person wishing to protect himself and others if he is was contagious, “writes the Scientific Council.

On the other hand, it is important to remember that the kiss is to be avoided at the time of reunion, because it leads to an increased risk of contamination. Overall, it will be necessary to keep a certain distance, by further separating the guests at the table, for example.

Individual portions for the meal

The measures of last year during the meal may also apply this year: it is necessary to “favor individual appetizers or use small canapes with spikes”, explained the infectious disease specialist Christophe Rapp in 2020. He had thus underlined the need for “preparation work, to dress the plates, to pre-cut and to favor individual portions since this avoids contact”. For example, “bread must be pre-cut in the kitchen”.

Salome Vincendon BFMTV reporter