Commuters today were seen wearing face coverings after health bosses urged Britons to protect the NHS amid record pressures and a new Covid variant.
More than a dozen trusts have declared critical incidents amid rising rates of Covid and flu, staff shortages and too few beds. The unprecedented pressure is expected to last until Easter — with hours-long ambulance queues and thousands of operations getting cancelled.
Meanwhile, a highly infectious Omicron sub-variant XBB.1.5, nicknamed ‘the Kraken’, is expected to pile even more pressure on the NHS in the coming weeks. Data shows the strain already makes up one in 25 cases in the UK.
Some scientists have said the unfolding situation warrants pandemic-era curbs, such as wearing masks, in a bid to limit demand for NHS care. Hospitals, GP practices and care homes have pleaded with visitors to return to wearing coverings.
Other experts have called for people to avoid crowds and for ministers to widen the booster roll-out to under-50s.
Commuters on the London Underground and bus network were seen wearing face masks during rush hour this morning amid warnings from experts to ‘ratchet up precautions’.
Officials issued fresh calls for the public to stay home if they are ill and wear masks if they must go out.
However, a poll by MailOnline revealed that almost 60 per cent of readers don’t think masks should be brought back. Readers said they were ‘disappointed’ that ‘so many still think a mask is of any benefit’ and warned they would ‘never ever wear one again’.