The Office for National Statistics (ONS) have released data from the Opinions and Lifestyle Survey which aims to understand the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on people, households and communities in Great Britain.
Dr Tom Wingfield, Senior Clinical Lecturer and Honorary Consultant Physician, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, said:
“The ONS survey data shows that the UK public is aware of the ongoing risk of transmission of Covid-19, especially in indoor and/or crowded settings such as public transport or shops.
“The UK public has lived with Covid-19 for over a year and – despite the government’s plans to lift the legal requirement for mask-wearing and some confusing messaging and terminology around “freedom day” – many people now rightly feel equipped with sufficient knowledge about Covid-19 to take public health matters into their own hands.
“In many other countries, especially those that have experienced previous outbreaks such as SARS, mask-wearing on public transport, shops, and other crowded spaces is now the norm. Clearly, mask-wearing has downsides including for communication, especially – and I say this as someone who wears hearing aids – for people with hearing impairment. However, routine use of masks in indoor settings will not only be of benefit to reduce Covid-19 transmission but be vital to reduce transmission of other respiratory infections including flu and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).
“Routine mask-wearing will be a crucial public health measure as we approach a long and difficult winter for the NHS, during which we will face the threat of increasing rates of people, especially the most vulnerable, being admitted to hospital with Covid-19 and/or other seasonal respiratory infections.”