Scientists call for masks to be worn indoors AND outdoors in the UK
Masks should be worn at every opportunity, medical leaders warn
At this point in the pandemic absolutely every tool available should be utilised to slow the spread of coronavirus, senior medics said today.
With two new and more transmissible variants now spreading across the UK, Professor Mike Griffin, president of the Royal College of Surgeons Edinburgh, said it "would be crazy" not to take every possible step to reduce infections, also citing the proximity of wide scale vaccination.
Griffin said the public should wear masks at every possible opportunity, in outdoor public spaces as well as inside. He also recommended unis should delay the return of their students in the New Year because of the increased cases in halls this September.
He said: "I think this new variant of Covid has changed our thinking on all of this. Above all, we wanted schools to continue - it was crucial for children's development and education, and university education as well.
"However, the prospect of these vaccines becoming available to mean we have the potential to get rid of this disease.
"It would be crazy not to take every possible opportunity of minimising transmission during January."
In a statement the Scottish Academy, which represents the Royal College of General Practitioners, the Royal College of Anaesthetists, the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow, the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh and the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, said they are "gravely concerned that this could lead to the NHS being overwhelmed."
"Our plea to the public is simple, please do not let your guard down now. You must continue to play your part to protect the NHS and save lives. Our general practices are exceptionally busy and our hospitals are already near capacity.
"We are calling for social distancing to be two metres at all times and for masks to be worn in any situation where you are meeting people who are not in your household or bubble – indoors or outdoors.
"All other potential measures to decrease community transmission should be considered by the government."