expert reaction to ONS stats on COVID-19 and the social impacts on Great Britain

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.

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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.”

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