'Wear masks while out and about', health bosses tell sick Brits, as NHS creaks amid wave of Covid and flu

3 January 2023, 07:11

Brits have been asked to wear masks outside again
Brits have been asked to wear masks outside again. Picture: Getty

By Kit Heren

Health bosses have warned sick people to wear masks while outside to protect other people as a wave of viruses continues to batter the UK.

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Covid-19 and flu infections are sweeping the country, putting added pressure on the NHS at a time when the health service is already extremely stretched.

The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said wearing masks outside would help stop the spread of Covid, flu and scarlet fever.

Professor Susan Hopkins, chief medical advisor at the UKHSA, added that adults should try not to go out when they are unwell if possible, and avoid visiting vulnerable people unless it is urgent.

Commuters wearing face masks on the Tube
Commuters wearing face masks on the Tube. Picture: Getty

She said "Adults should... try to stay home when unwell and if you do have to go out, wear a face covering. When unwell don’t visit healthcare settings or visit vulnerable people unless urgent.

"Remember that flu vaccination is still available for all eligible groups and is the best protection against the virus.

"We have seen good uptake in older age groups but vaccination among young children remains low. Flu can be very unpleasant and in some cases can lead to more serious illness.

"Getting your child vaccinated protects them and others they come into contact with, and it’s still not too late."

The warning comes as the NHS faces extreme pressures this winter
The warning comes as the NHS faces extreme pressures this winter. Picture: Getty

Prof Hopkins added that children should also be kept home from school or nursery if they are sick, and parents should teach them of the importance of washing hands in stopping the spread of illnesses.

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It comes amid a desperate time for the NHS, with a senior doctor warning that hundreds of people could be dying every week because of ambulance delays.

Andrew Castle: I would say the NHS has failed

Dr Adrian Boyle, president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, said: “We went into this December with the worst-ever performance against our target and the highest-ever occupancy levels in hospital.

“We don’t know about the waiting time figures because they don’t come out for a couple of weeks — I’d be amazed if they’re not the worst ever that we’ve seen.

“We think somewhere between 300 and 500 people are dying as a consequence of delays and problems with urgent and emergency care each week.”

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