Humber and North Yorkshire Integrated Care Board has reinstated face mask wearing across all health providers, including GP practices, to prevent the spread of Covid.
The ICB sent a letter stating that Directors of Public Health locally had advised the measure to protect the vulnerable and reduce levels of sickness among health and social care staff.
Universal masking should also be encouraged among social care providers, the ICB said.
Steps to prevent the spread of Covid-19 should also include all health and care staff being encouraged to have their flu and Covid booster jabs.
And health providers should monitor and improve air quality by ventilation or air filtration where necessary, the ICB said.
‘We expect to see a wave of Covid-19 in the Humber and North Yorkshire area during October/November and another, potentially, in January,’ the ICB said.
‘With that in mind, across the Partnership area, we will be vigorously promoting the simple steps that follow to protect themselves from the risk of catching Covid-19 such as getting vaccinated, wearing face coverings in crowded indoor settings, and taking a lateral flow test if they have symptoms.’
Humberside LMC shared the updated mask guidance to practices in their most recent newsletter and said: ‘This advice comes in light of further challenges from respiratory infections, including the current growing rates of COVID-19, the expected position regarding flu, the impacts of cold weather on health, and worsening cost of living.’
NHS England said guidance on mask wearing was issued locally on the basis of risk assessments on the levels of cases.
Some hospital trusts have also reinstated mask requirements this month over concerns about the number of admissions.
But levels of Covid-19 show some signs of dropping off with confirmed cases, hospital admissions and suspected outbreaks all now decreasing or levelling off.
The latest Covid-19 hospital admission rate was 10.06 per 100,000 population, a decrease from 11.61 in the previous week.
It doesn’t mean that cases won’t rise again, health officials said with Dr Mary Ramsay, director of public health programmes at UKHSA, noting the ongoing drop in Covid-19 cases was testament to the continued success of the autumn booster programme.
‘However, it is vital that we do not become complacent as cases could rise quickly again throughout the winter and we need to be ready.’
National advice for face mask wearing in GP practices expired in June, however the BMA said it would support any practices that continued to mandate mask wearing for patients.
A number of NHS England regions also reinstated mask mandates when Covid cases were rising in July.
This story first appeared on our sister title, Pulse.