Covid: GP calls for return of face masks and says new variant is making ‘people sicker’
“It’s far from over. It’s absolutely far from over. Case rates are really, really high.”
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Medics and bereaved relatives have previously called for the return of measures such as mask wearing and better sick pay as the pandemic continues to spread.
It comes as coronavirus rates continue to tick up - with UK infections reaching their highest level in three months, according to the latest data.
Now Dr Jackie Applebee, a GP in Tower Hamlets in London, has urged people to start wearing face masks again, saying it “is such a small thing”, and explained that the new variant is making “people sicker”, our sister title LondonWorld reports.
She told LondonWorld: “It’s far from over. It’s absolutely far from over. Case rates are really, really high.
“It’ll keep mutating and we’ll keep getting new variants. Fingers crossed, they will get less and less severe but it will keep mutating.
“Anecdotally, I know so many people who have had Covid or who have got Covid, in my immediate circle, far more than two years ago.
“But nobody’s wearing a mask anymore because we’ve been told we don’t need to.
“People are going about their daily lives and it’s still a really nasty illness, for some.
“This new variant especially is affecting people more… people seem to be sicker.”
Dr Applebee, chairman of the doctors’ branch of Unite the Union, called for mask wearing, better ventilation, and improved sick pay for NHS staff.
“It’s such a small thing to wear a mask and such a small thing to get proper ventilation in indoor spaces, public transport, and measure the CO2 levels,” she said.
“Health workers have been banging on about PPE since the beginning and we’re still only given fluid resistant surgical masks.
“We’re not given proper respirator masks, certainly in general practice.
“Then taking away the Covid sick pay as well for health workers - it’s just awful that people are exposed to it at work and yet they can’t get extended sick pay.
“People will go back to work when they are infected.”
And she also highlighted the time of year, saying: “This is the middle of summer - just imagine what it’ll be like in the winter.
“I don’t understand why our government is so hellbent on pretending it’s over when it clearly isn’t. It doesn’t make any sense to me.
“We passed 200,000 deaths the other day - people are still dying.”
However, she admitted: “There isn’t the [level of] hospital admissions which is great and there aren’t deaths on the same scale, but people are still being admitted and still dying.”
The pressure on the health service continues to cause issues, Dr Applebee explained: “I don’t know that the health service can keep up with vaccinating on the level that we did the first time around.
“We were all frantically vaccinating - I did loads but I’ve also got a day job and you can’t keep up that level of activity.
“The old vaccines are now not providing that level of protection, so how can drug companies keep up with making new ones?
“Flu mutates in the same way and we have a new one each year.”
The UK health security agency (UKHSA) has announced over 50s are set to be offered Covid-19 booster and flu jabs this autumn.
Professor Anthony Harnden, deputy chairman of the joint committee on vaccination and immunisation (JCVI) said: “Boosters are highly effective at increasing immunity and, by offering a further dose to those at higher risk of severe illness this autumn, we hope to significantly reduce the risk of hospitalisations and deaths over the winter.
Under 50s with higher risks, including pregnant women, will also be offered the jab.
And Dr Mary Ramsay, head of immunisation at UKHSA, said: “It’s important everyone eligible for the booster gets the jab when invited, including pregnant women, who are among those at higher risk.
“Having Covid-19 during pregnancy can lead to complications. Getting the vaccine, including a booster, offers the best possible protection for you and your baby.”