A Downing Street spokesperson has commented on the rules for taking Covid tests before attending a Christmas party in England.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid earlier suggested that people could take a test before attending parties.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “If you are invited to a Christmas party, there’s quite a few people there, maybe you want to take an LFT (lateral flow test) test before you go. Go to the party, but just be cautious.”

And asked by Sky News if people should take a Covid test before attending Christmas parties, Mr Javid said: “I would.”

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “I think he was very clear about what he was saying.

“He was setting out that we do have a significant testing capacity, and if people wanted further reassurance they could use that.”

As the Government accelerates the Covid booster programme to help slow down the spread of the new Omicron variant, Sajid Javid said people should continue following Government advice despite warnings from some health officials over the risks of socialising.

Mr Javid told Sky News: “I think people should continue to behave in the way they were planning to behave over Christmas. I don’t think there is any need to change those plans.”

He said he was not anticipating another “pingdemic” with people being told to self-isolate after contact with an infected individual.

“At this point in time the case numbers are very low. That will certainly go up but the numbers are low. I hope it stays that way. I’m not worried about a ‘pingdemic’ type of situation,” he said.

Asked if he would wear a mask if he was at a party, Mr Javid said: “It depends if I am walking around or sitting down. It depends if I’m eating. People just need to make a decision based on the guidance.”

It comes as Saffron Cordery, deputy chief executive of NHS Providers, which represents NHS trusts in England, said some NHS organisations had asked staff “not to mix in big groups” in the run-up to Christmas owing to fears off staff absences.

She told Sky News this year was “very different” to last year when “it was absolutely clear that nobody was going to a Christmas party”.

She added: “This year, we are in in a slightly different place – people will be taking their own decisions.

“We know that many NHS trusts, for example, are asking their staff not to mix in big groups in the run-up to Christmas because of the potential threat to their health and what they will be available to do.

“So, they are setting one example there.

“I think, at the moment, without that advice for Government, I think it’s for individuals and individual organisations to think about what they will be doing in the run-up to Christmas. But it’s a really challenging and difficult one.

“The thing we can encourage everyone to do is to go out and get their booster when it’s made available to them and to book in for that because that’s one of the best defences that we’ve got alongside wearing masks, washing your hands and also making sure you’re in ventilated rooms.”

On Tuesday evening, the Prime Minister urged people not to cancel Christmas parties or school nativity plays, telling a Downing Street press conference he would “throw everything” at the booster vaccination campaign to tackle the variant’s spread.

Everyone eligible is to be offered a booster jab by the end of January, with at least 400 military personnel helping the NHS and vaccination centres “popping up like Christmas trees”, he added.

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