Jason Leitch recommends use of masks on transport and in crowded places

One in 20 people in Scotland are estimated to have had Covid-19.

Jason Leitch recommends use of masks on transport and in crowded places STV News
The national clinical director said that face coverings work at a population level.

Jason Leitch has urged Scots to wear a face covering when using public transport or in crowded areas.

The public health expert made the remarks after figures indicated that around one in 20 people Scotland were infected with coronavirus last week.

Currently, there are 20 people in the country in intensive care with the virus, whilst around 900 to have tested positive are in hospital.

Leitch, Scotland’s national clinical director, was among those to have contracted the virus and was in insolation for a period of 10 days.

Speaking on Sunday, he did not downplay the seriousness of the rise in cases, but warned against an overreaction, due to the country being more able to live with the virus than it was previously when lockdowns were required.

“We should be concerned,” Leitch told BBC Scotland’s The Sunday Show in response to the figures.

“I am unfortunately one of those statistics, I’m 10 days on and I feel almost normal, but not completely.

“This is a nasty disease even for those who are vaccinated and relatively fit and middle-aged, or elderly perhaps.

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“But, it is worse in some individuals and those 20 in intensive care. 41 people died last week with Covid on their death certificate, we’ve got about 900 in hospital.

“So, let’s not underreact, but let’s not overreact either because vaccines, antivirals, we know what to do.

“So we’re able to live with this in a different way than we could a year ago.”

Leitch said that if people are unwell, or if their children are not well, they should remain at home.

“I think there’s three things you and I can do, everybody in the country can do,” he said.

“Number one is get vaccinated. If you haven’t been, if you’ve missed one, if you’ve just never thought about it, come, we want you to be vaccinated, it’s the most important single thing you can do.

“Number two, stay off if you’re sick. So, I didn’t go to work this week, so I’ve had 10 days, I’m going to go back tomorrow, this is the first time pretty much I’ve been out the house to see you.

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“But stay off if you’re sick and keep your kids off school if they’re sick so that you don’t spread it to people who may be more vulnerable.

“And third, think about those other protections, not just face coverings, but alcohol gel as you walk into a place, keeping your hands clean.

“If you’re on a bus or a train, or in a crowded environment, then pop that mask back on.”

Asked about the effectiveness of cotton masks against the virus, Leitch said that face coverings work at a population level.

He said: “Risk is quite difficult to explain on an individual level compared to a population.

“Face coverings at a population level work, they work. So if you can face cover a whole train, that works.

“If you’ve got one person in the corner of a train, you’re right, that’s probably not having that huge an effect on the numbers for Scotland.

“So, if you can just get those things back in place – the alcohol gel, keeping a little bit of distance and staying off your work if you’re sick – that’s the same instructions for norovirus, for flu, we shouldn’t be going round with infections.”

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