Face masks remain an option when dealing with a high rise in Covid cases across Scotland, a leading health expert has said.
Jillian Evans, head of health intelligence at NHS Grampian, said while the current Covid cases in Scotland look as though they are beginning to decline, wearing a covering remains a key defence in the fight against the virus.
Ms Evans was speaking following a nationwide call from Hans Kluge, Europe director of the World Health Organisation (WHO), who wants masks to be reintroduced across Europe from early autumn.
‘Make your own informed face mask decisions’
In a statement Mr Kluge said: “More than two years into the pandemic, we’re all aware of the tools we have to keep ourselves safe, assess our level of risk and take the necessary steps to protect others if we get infected.
“Make your own informed decisions. Just because a mask isn’t mandated doesn’t mean it’s prohibited.
“In the United Kingdom alone, for example, an estimated 2 million people – 3% of the population – suffer from long Covid.
“My message to governments and health authorities is to act now to prepare for the coming months.”
— Hans Kluge (@hans_kluge) July 19, 2022
“We could be seeing the end of this particular wave, all eyes are on autumn and what might happened after that.
“It is about being prepared. And doing the right thing.
“He calls masks pandemic stabilisers. I don’t think [the mask] is going to stabilise what we have seen now, which is multiple waves of infection. This is living and learning to live with Covid.
“Mask wearing is most topical for us and is part of the Scottish Government’s strategic framework that when infections are particularly high that is something we could pull back on.
“It does become part of your normal life, when you see people around you not wearing around you mask you feel like the odd one out and you think the risk is quite low and you can go without.
“That situation where we were very community minded at the start of the pandemic has changed quite a bit.”
She said it was time to reconsider wearing a mask to protect others.
“When you see people not wearing masks you think it is safe to do so, and risks are low. It is turning that round, again, to think ‘What can I do for others?'”, she continued.
“There are many good reasons for doing it for health purposes.”
‘Important to be vaccinated’
Turning to the situation in Grampian hospitals, she said: “We are constantly dealing with Covid, every day, every night we are dealing with well over 100 people who are living with Covid.
“It is an enduring problem because Covid patients still need to be in an isolated room.”
She said: “I would say to the 300,000 people who have not have had their first vaccination, it is something to consider now.”