Masks and social distancing ‘could last years’ to contain Covid-19

Masks and social distancing 'could last years' to contain Covid-19
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Daily US Times: People may need to social distancing and wear face masks for several years until we return to normality, a leading epidemiologist has predicted.

Basic measures could be in place until other countries successfully roll out coronavirus vaccines, said Mary Ramsay, the head of immunisation at Public Health England.

She also said a return of big spectator events required clear instructions and careful monitoring about how to stay safe from the disease.

The UK defence secretary Ben Wallace has not ruled out the foreign holiday ban being extended.

Mr Wallace told BBC that booking a break abroad now would be “premature” and “potentially risky”.

The UK set another record for the number of Covid-19 vaccine doses given in a single day on Saturday, with 844,285 jabs.

Dr Ramsay said restrictions such as social distancing and face masking in crowded places had become accepted by many and still allowed the economy to function.

”People have got used to those lower-level restrictions now, and people can live with them, and the economy can still go on with those less severe restrictions in place”, she said.

Dr Ramsay warned that it is “very important that we do not relax too quickly” adding that any circulating virus would inevitably pick on those who are vulnerable.

She said: “We have to look very carefully before any of these restrictions are lifted.”

Earlier this month, the UK government’s chief medical adviser Prof Chris Whitty told MPs that it was hoped “simple interventions like washing hands, face masks where appropriate, test-and-trace, and above all vaccines” would keep the virus controlled beyond the summer.

Sir Patrick Vallance, the chief scientific adviser, has also said face coverings could be needed in certain situations if the number of coronavirus infections rises in the winter, but that it was possible people will naturally behave in a way that promotes social distancing.

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