Coronavirus: Medical specialists call for face masks to be worn outdoors

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EVERY measure must now be taken to mitigate coronavirus transmission, including advising the public when outdoors to wear face protection, leading medical experts have said.

Professor Mike Griffin, President of the Royal College of Surgeons Edinburgh, said that not taking every possible measure to minimize winter infections would be “crazy” given the added risk of a more rapidly spreading variant, as well as the possibility of near-future life-saving vaccines.

Prof. Griffin said that the wearing of face masks in both outdoor and indoor public areas should involve delaying the return of university students to campus in January after dorms were associated with a rise in cases at the end of the summer.

“He said, “I think our perspective on all this has changed with this new version of Covid. First and foremost, we needed schools to continue moving – it was important for the growth and education of children, and also for university education.

But the promise of the availability of these vaccines means that we have the opportunity to get rid of this disease.

“It would be crazy not to take every opportunity in January to minimize transmission.”

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Prof. Griffin is among a number of leading Scottish medical experts urging maximum precautions after household shuffling rules were relaxed over Christmas, coinciding with increasing fears that highly transmissible British and South African virus strains might cause new cases to erupt.

Professor Michael Griffin, founder of the Edinburgh Royal College of Surgeons,

The Scottish Academy, comprising the Royal College of Anaesthetists, the Royal College of General Practitioners, the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow, the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh and the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, said in a statement that they were “seriously concerned that this could lead to an overload of the NHS.”

They added: “Our public appeal is simple: please do not let your guard down now. To protect the NHS and save lives, you must continue to do your part. The offices of our doctors are extraordinarily busy, and our hospitals are already at capacity.”

If we do not act together now to prevent Covid-19 from spreading further, we risk facing a “perfect storm” of challenges.

In any case where they meet people who are not part of their household or bubble – indoors or outdoors,”We are calling for social distance to be two meters at all times, and for people to wear masks in any situation where they encounter people who are not part of their household or bubble – indoors or outdoors,”we call for a social distance of two meters at all times, and for people to wear masks.

“All other possible measures to reduce transmission in the community should be considered by the government.”

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Several countries, including France, Belgium, and Italy, have made it mandatory for outdoor face masks to curb infections, although the regulation is restricted to crowded outdoor areas in some cases.

Face masks in Scotland have been compulsory in enclosed public spaces such as shops and public transport since the summer, and are recommended but not required in crowded outdoor areas.

Masks have been shown to be effective in preventing the spread, Prof. Griffin said, “and so they should not only be worn indoors but outdoors.” For the next month or two, it’s a small price to pay.

Prof. Griffin pointed to stresses in other areas of the UK that have already been seen. On Boxing Day, the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff released an urgent appeal to medical students to assist in the intensive care unit, which was described as “extremely busy” due to covid admissions and winter pressures.

We don’t want to overstretch our hospitals,” Prof. Griffith said. “That’s how they are doing in the south of England and in Wales.

They are coping in Scotland and it is vital that we hold down the number of infections so that hospitals and the health service can concentrate on the vaccine’s rollout. We don’t want medical staff to be redeployed to take care of patients in intensive care and covid wards.

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