Face masks recommended by Scottish Government to protect against Covid-19 spread

28 April 2020, 13:02 | Updated: 28 April 2020, 13:33

By Megan White

The Scottish Government has changed its advice on the wearing of face masks, telling the public there “may be some benefit” in wearing them “in limited circumstances.”

In new guidance published on Tuesday, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said they were recommending facial coverings on public transport and in shops.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced the change in policy at her daily briefing giving updates on the Covid-19 response.

Ms Sturgeon said: “We are recommending you do wear a cloth face covering if you are in an enclosed space with others where social-distancing is difficult, for example on public transport or in a shop.

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By face covering, the Scottish Government "do not mean the wearing of a surgical or other medical grade mask but a facial covering of the mouth and nose, that is made of cloth or other textiles and through which you can breathe, for example a scarf."

The First Minister's comments came hours after Health Secretary Matt Hancock told LBC's Nick Ferrari that the impact of wearing a mask is "small unless you are in a clinical setting."

A total of 1,332 patients have died in Scotland after testing positive for coronavirus, up by 70 from 1,262 on Monday, the First Minister said.

She also said wearing a mask "allows you to give others some limited protection, which is why we’re recommending it.”

Downing Street said a review of the effectiveness of wearing masks has been sent to ministers who are considering the advice.

The Prime Minister's spokesman said: "Once a decision has been reached then we'll announce it publicly."

10,721 people have now tested positive for the virus in Scotland, up by 200 from 10,521 the day before.

There are 126 people in intensive care with coronavirus or coronavirus symptoms in Scotland and 1,754 people are in hospital with confirmed or suspected Covid-19.

Ms Sturgeon added 2,448 people who tested positive for coronavirus have now been able to leave hospital.

In guidance published online, the government said "wearing a face covering in the situations outlined above may provide some level of protection against transmission to other people in close proximity."

But they added: "There is no evidence to suggest there might be a benefit outdoors, unless in an unavoidable crowded situation, where there may be some benefit."

The government said the wearing of facial coverings will not be mandatory but the guidance is "under ongoing review as we consider any easing of lockdown restrictions in the weeks ahead."

The First Minister also announced an expansion of the testing regime for coronavirus.

Health boards will now test everyone aged 70 and over who is admitted to hospital, regardless of whether they have symptoms.

In addition to this, they will be tested every four days throughout their stay in hospital, she said.

"This will help us identify if the virus is being transmitted throughout a hospital," Ms Sturgeon said.

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