HOSPITAL and care home staff who interact with patients “should wear a medical face mask at all times throughout their shift”, new guidelines from the Scottish Government has revealed. 

Earlier this month it was revealed that 908 people picked up Covid-19 after entering Scottish hospitals for other reasons – with 218 of those dying after contracting the disease. 

Following investigations by officials into hospital-acquired transmission of Covid-19, the Scottish Government has issued new guidance that will take effect from Monday 29 June – requiring a medical face mask to be worn by front-line staff “throughout their shift”. 

READ MORE: Coronavirus: More than 200 die after first falling sick in Scottish hospitals

Visitors and those attending an adult hospital or care home, including for appointments, are also to be asked to “wear a face covering”, similar to the rules on public transport, “where it’s not always possible to maintain a two-metre distance from other people”. 

The guidance says: “It is now recommended that staff working in a clinical area of an acute adult, including mental health or community hospital or in a care home for the elderly should wear a medical face mask at all times throughout their shift.  

“Members of the public visiting an adult hospital, including to attend an appointment, or a care home for the elderly are asked to wear a face covering of the same kind that the Scottish Government has recommended be worn on public transport, where it’s not always possible to maintain a two-metre distance from other people.” 

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Jeane Freeman calls for 'cooperation' from care home operators to ensure all staff are tested

Staff “should use their professional judgement” for when it is necessary to remove the medical face mask for a short period of time and “staff are not required to wear a medical face mask during mealtimes in staff restaurants or when in changing rooms”. 

The Scottish Government is also extending weekly testing for staff who work in specialist cancer services, residential mental health or provide long-term care for the elderly from July 8. 

Healthcare Improvement Scotland (HIS) will also restart inspections of hospitals and services by the end of June. 

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said: “Throughout the pandemic, NHS Scotland has remained open, delivering emergency services and vital care. 

“As the NHS prepares to safely resume more services, it is vitally important that we continue with rigorous infection prevention and control practices to minimise the spread of the virus in any health and social care setting and are aligned with the growing evidence on the virus and how it is transmitted.” 

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She added: “I am bringing forward a range of actions to strengthen these practices, in line with advice from clinical experts. This includes regular testing of all hospital staff working in specialist cancer services, as well as those who provide long-term care for the elderly and those working in long-stay mental health facilities. 

“This new guidance will also ensure all staff in hospitals and care homes who interact with patients or residents will be required to wear a medical face mask throughout their shift – for the protection of those they care for, their colleagues and themselves. 

“Healthcare Improvement Scotland (HIS) paused their inspection work in March to allow local infection prevention and control teams to concentrate on tackling the virus. However, the time is now right for inspections to resume.”