Topic: Masks and social distancing could last years
People may need to wear face coverings and socially distance for several years until we return to normality, a leading epidemiologist has predicted.
Mary Ramsay, the head of immunisation at Public Health England, said basic measures could be in place until other countries successfully roll out jabs.
She also said a return of big spectator events required careful monitoring and clear instructions about staying safe.
Dr Ramsay said restrictions such as face coverings in crowded places and social distancing had become accepted by many and still allowed the economy to function.
She said “people have got used to those lower-level restrictions now, and people can live with them, and the economy can still go on with those less severe restrictions in place”.
“So I think certainly for a few years, at least until other parts of the world are as well vaccinated as we are, and the numbers have come down everywhere, that is when we may be able to go very gradually back to a more normal situation,” she added.
Warning it was “very important that we do not relax too quickly”, Dr Ramsay said any circulating virus would inevitably pick on those who are vulnerable.
“We have to look very carefully before any of these restrictions are lifted,” she said.
Prof Chris Whitty, the UK government’s chief medical adviser, told MPs earlier this month that it was hoped “simple interventions like washing hands, face masks where appropriate, test-and-trace, and above all vaccines” would keep the virus controlled beyond the summer.
Sir Patrick Vallance, the chief scientific adviser, has also said face masks could be needed in certain situations if the number of infections rises in the winter, but that it was possible people will naturally behave in a way that promotes social distancing.
Topic Discussed: Masks and social distancing could last years