Earlier this year, countries across the globe faced new variants of Covid-19. The UK reported cases of the Eris variant as well as the ‘highly mutated’ Pirola strain. For many, memories of life with coronavirus are a distant memory, but Covid-19 is definitely still around. It’s certainly different, catching the virus in 2023 compared to 2020, but it is still worth your while to protect yourself and others around you.
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Indeed, a recent update to a hospital’s rules in England proves that we should still be aware of Covid-19 and its impact, especially on the most vulnerable. So, let’s get into it: why has this Sheffield hospital trust decided to bring back masks?
Hospital trust returns to masks
Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has asked visitors and patients to start wearing masks again. Their reason for doing so is that Covid-19 cases have ‘risen significantly’ over recent weeks, both on a local and national scale.
Managers of the group have stated that this is one of a few ‘precautionary measures’ they are putting in place to limit the spread of the virus in the run up to winter. People entering the hospital are also being asked to sanitize their hands, keep their distance and delay visits if they have viral symptoms.
A spokesperson for the trust, which runs establishments including Northern General Hospital, explained:
Along with our staff, visitors, outpatients and anyone accompanying them are asked to wear masks in all clinical areas and anywhere they will be in close contact with others for longer periods of time.
Please ask a member of staff if you do not have a mask and they will provide you with one.
Reactions to the news
The trust posted an announcement on X to explain this new rule, which came into effect on 20 October, and the reasoning behind it. Some users seem less than convinced that the masks will be worn correctly by members of staff. One user named @Michaeltikus commented:
Will you be telling your staff to actually stay home if they are infected? Or just to wear a totally ineffective baggy blue and as per your August 2023 advice.
Some have referred to recent statistics that show the spike in Covid cases is actually coming down again. One user, @Fazza_BayBay, shared a graph showing this and wrote:
No. You can ask all you want. There is no mandate. You have no legal right to push this.
Indeed, according to Government data for England, although there has been an upward trend in the number of Covid cases since July, these levels have decreased in recent days. Between the 7 and 14 October 2023, the number of cases decreased by 25% compared to the week before.
BBC: Covid: Sheffield hospital trust returns to masks as cases soar
Daily Mail: Hospital trust implements 'precautionary measures', asking visitors to wear face masks again, amid spike in flu and covid cases