BMA demands return to mask-wearing for all patients as COVID-19 deaths hit 200,000

The BMA is demanding a return to compulsory mask-wearing for patients as the UK death toll from COVID-19 hit 200,000 and infections soar.

COVID-19 test (Photo: Massimiliano Finzi/Getty Images)

BMA chair Professor Philip Banfield said it was vital for the government to ensure the public are well informed of the risks of COVID-19 and the steps they can take to protect themselves and others.

‘The government must do more to protect the NHS by bringing back mandatory mask-wearing for patients when they are in healthcare settings, ensuring regular testing for staff, and making sure that there is reliable access to high-quality PPE throughout the health service,’ Professor Banfield said.

New figures from the ZOE health study also showed COVID-19 cases hitting new highs with infections soaring to 351,546 a day, up from 114,030 at the beginning of June.

COVID-19 cases

Data from the study suggest there are currently around 4.4m symptomatic cases of COVID-19 in the UK.

The BMA also called on the government to U-turn on the ending of special sick leave provisions for NHS staff.

Professor Banfield said: ‘The government must also reverse its deeply damaging decision to end special covid leave, which provided vital support to healthcare staff if they needed to self-isolate or became unwell with COVID-19 or long COVID.’

Mask wearing

The BMA’s call comes as GP practices parts of England have been asked to move back to universal face masking for both staff and patients.

Meanwhile, GPonline reported last week on LMCs reporting severe pressure on GP services as a result of rising COVID-19 infections.

LMCs in London, Cambridgeshire and Devon have reported significant problems with staff absences - with practices reporting concerns that current pressures 'far exceed' levels usually seen in winter.

Devon LMC has declared a county-wide red alert over pressure on GP services.

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