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DR TIM ALLISON: It is not time to get back fully to how things were before - face coverings are still a sign of kindness to others


By Dr Tim Allison

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Masks do have their drawbacks and it is great to be able to see people’s faces, but it is not time to get back fully to how things were before Covid.
Masks do have their drawbacks and it is great to be able to see people’s faces, but it is not time to get back fully to how things were before Covid.

It is easy to get used to things. Three years ago, we lived in a world where masks were worn by surgeons or by comic book heroes, but hardly ever by most of us.

Then it became clear that masks or face coverings protect other people from Covid when we wear them. We have got used to wearing masks and this has no doubt been massively helped by rules and legislation.

Now these rules have gone, so have the masks.

They have not completely disappeared, and I don’t feel out of place having a face covering in the supermarket, but it has suddenly become usual not to have a mask.

Masks do have their drawbacks and it is great to be able to see people’s faces, but it is not time to get back fully to how things were before Covid.

There are still people vulnerable to Covid and there are still vulnerable locations. We need to continue to wear face coverings in hospitals and should see them as ways to protect other people.

In other indoor places where we don’t have to wear a mask, we can still wear one.

Face coverings are a sign of kindness to others.

Dr Tim Allison, director of public health for NHS Highland.
Dr Tim Allison, director of public health for NHS Highland.

Just because other people may not be wearing a face covering it doesn’t mean that we can’t.

Likewise, I have been pleased to see people keeping a bit more of a distance when standing in a queue.

Getting used to things has also been true for Covid tests to some extent. Many of us needed to get used to regular testing in ways we could barely have imagined before Covid.

When they were first introduced, lateral flow tests were described as looking like pregnancy tests, but now it is probably the line, or in case of infection the two lines, of the lateral flow test that are more familiar to us.

In most cases, Covid tests are no longer required and much of the testing infrastructure has gone. However, for vulnerable locations it is still important to be cautious and to have tests. So, if you are planning to visit hospital or a care home, please hold off from visiting if you have Covid symptoms and if you don’t have any symptoms, please take a lateral flow test.

If you need new tests these can be ordered online from the www.gov.uk website or by phoning 119.

It is not time to get used to life without Covid because, even though infection rates are decreasing, we are not without Covid.

We may well be faced with one or two more

waves of the virus later in the year. If that happens, we will have the protection across the community

from vaccination and from past infection, but we may also need to get back to more masks and more testing.

Dr Tim Allison is NHS Highland’s director of public health and policy.


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