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You still need to wear a face covering in a health care setting

The requirement to wear a face covering in GP practices, hospitals, pharmacies and other health care settings across Suffolk and north east Essex will remain in place when COVID-19 restrictions ease later this week.

With the success of the vaccination programme enabling the country to return to Plan A from Thursday January 27, health professionals across the system are urging everyone to remain vigilant and remember the COVID-19 virus has not gone away - it continues to threaten the health and wellbeing of our communities.

With face coverings known to be an effective way of preventing the spread of infection, keeping this requirement in place will best protect the most vulnerable patients from contracting or spreading COVID-19. It will also help prevent staff sickness and alleviate the negative impact when staff must self-isolate, which can cause major disruption to services and inconvenience to patients.

Dr Richard West MBE, senior partner at Woolpit Health Centre, said: “It’s so important that caution and vigilance remain at the forefront of people’s minds. COVID-19 is still with us and will remain so for a long time.

“The vaccination programme has given many people a good level of protection, which has resulted in the return to Plan A from Thursday.

“But the virus is still spreading and infecting people, and it’s vitally important we do all we can to protect NHS services, patients and staff, which is why keeping the need for a face covering in a health care setting, unless exempt, is a sensible and prudent action.

“I ask people to understand the reasoning and respect this decision and support their NHS by continuing to cover up when entering a health care setting.”

Giles Thorpe is Chief Nurse at East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust, the organisation which runs Colchester and Ipswich hospitals. He said: “Although there will be lots of changes outside healthcare settings this week, all our existing COVID-19 safety guidance remains the same inside our hospitals.

“We are still asking our staff, patients and visitors to wear a surgical face mask, wash their hands regularly and keep a safe distance from other people.“We thank our communities for their ongoing support and understanding so we can keep everyone – patients, visitors, and staff – safe in our hospitals.” 

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