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Farmers told to remember face masks at sales

GP Dr John Locke tells farmers to treat Covid-19 like they would treat disease threats to animals.
GP Dr John Locke tells farmers to treat Covid-19 like they would treat disease threats to animals.

Farmers are being reminded to wear face coverings to autumn livestock sales to protect themselves and others from Covid-19.

Rural GP Dr John Locke, who is chairman of NFU Scotland’s Stewartry branch in Dumfries and Galloway, has urged his farming peers to treat the threat of coronavirus in the same way they treat disease threats to their livestock.

“Why do we test for bovine viral diarrhoea (BVD), TB or Johnes or bother to isolate a sick calf? Or disinfect lambing pens?” said Dr Locke in a blog post on the union’s website.

“Because we know that these diseases spread without symptoms or that we can take effective measures to avoid infecting other animals. Covid-19 is no different.”

Dr John Locke

He likened the virus to BVD and said there are “super-spreaders” who shed lots of the virus and do not necessarily become ill themselves.

“You cannot tell who has the virus, but you can take measures to reduce transmission,” added Dr Locke.

He advised anyone attending breeding livestock sales in the next couple of months to travel alone or only with close family, and in instances where they are travelling with others they must keep windows open, wear a mask and disinfect their hands after leaving the vehicle.

Sale attendance should be registered with the mart in advance and farmers are advised to follow social distancing guidelines and keep two metres apart from others.

“Wash or disinfect your hands regularly and avoid touching your face,” added Dr Locke, who recommended wearing a face covering to reduce the spread of virus droplets.

“For business and health reasons take care as you mix at markets this autumn and do not forget biosecurity at home to keep yourself, staff and family safe.

“If farmers and staff are careless then markets could be shut down, close contacts quarantined and businesses fined for breaking the regulations.”

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