‘I’m a professor – my face mask advice as Covid cases rise’

Dr Hilary discusses possible Covid wave

A professor has shared his opinion on mask wearing as Covid cases rise in the UK.

This comes as two new variants, Pirola and Eris, are circulating around the country.

The latest Government data logged on September 3 showed that the majority of the cases in England were caused by the Eris variant, also known as EG.5.1.

With cases on the rise and the appearance of new variants, Dr Chris Papadopoulos, Principal Lecturer in Public Health at the University of Bedfordshire, told Express.co.uk that masks could make a “significant difference” in certain settings.

He said: “As the current Covid wave intensifies with rising cases and hospital admissions, wearing face masks remains a practical and straightforward measure. 

“Masks not only offer personal protection but also safeguard those around us. 

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“Their use is especially vital for those at higher risk of severe disease or when in contact with vulnerable individuals.

“Crowded and poorly ventilated areas, like trains and airports, are places where masks can make a significant difference.”

Furthermore, the professor shared that mandatory mask wearing might have to be re-introduced in hospitals and GP surgeries if Covid cases and hospitalisation rates don’t begin to plateau soon.

There were a total of 11,668 cases in England, 328 in Wales, and 1,615 in Scotland in the seven days to September 8, according to the latest government data.

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Coronavirus hospital admissions in England are now at their highest rate since the end of April, according to the UK Health Security Agency.

“Given the current strain on the NHS and the likelihood of this worsening during the winter months, reintroducing mandatory masks, if cases continue to rise, will also serve to protect the NHS from becoming overwhelmed and facing further staff absences,” the professor said.

While surgical masks that are mainly used by hospital staff and doctors do offer protection against Covid, research has identified more effective options.

FFP2 masks or N95 masks, which will filter out 98 percent of aerosol particles released by coughing, sneezing, and speaking, could offer the ultimate protection.

They are disposable just like the surgical ones but FFP2 and N95 pack several more layers of different fabrics, including a polypropylene filter which can trap the smallest airborne particles.

What are the symptoms of the new Covid variants?

The professor recommended looking out for the following signs: 

  • Sore throat
  • Runny or blocked nose
  • Cough (with or without phlegm)
  • Headaches.

If you’re unsure whether you have Covid, you should take a lateral flow test, the expert added.

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