IN THE South West, we have seen a lower rate of cases of Covid-19 in the past months than the rest of the UK but it is essential that we continue to try and keep as many people safe from this virus as possible.

Having looked at the evidence, it is clear that wearing a face covering can reduce the airborne transmission of larger respiratory droplets. These are emitted in coughing, sneezing and talking; and we know this is one of the commonest ways people catch the disease from each other. By wearing a face covering, everyone can show how much they care for others and is a simple and altruistic way to help reduce the risk of infections across the population.

As a result, the British Medical Association has been calling on the Government to implement policies which encourage people to wear face coverings since April. We believe that wearing face coverings will reduce the number of infections and very much welcome the requirement to wear them in hospitals and on public transport. Moreover, it is vital that the Government extends this policy to cover GP surgeries and other health, community and social care settings. By implementing a consistent rule, we can avoid any confusion amongst the general public and reduce the spread of the virus in high risk environments.

The Government must be clear with the public on the type of coverings that are necessary and how to access them, as we know that almost all of our patients across the South West will want to keep their communities as safe as possible. Covid-19 has not gone away and with the UK death toll now tragically over 40,000, it is absolutely crucial that the Government gets this right as protecting the health of people in the South West is something we all hold dear.

Dr Lucy-Jane Davis, BMA South West Regional Council Chair