Two key Covid rules – wearing masks in crowded spaces and limiting mixing indoors – are crucial to avoiding a “brutal” Easter, an NHS chief has warned.
The NHS Confederation, which acts as a representative for hospitals and ambulance trusts, says hospitals are about to face a “brutal Easter as bad as any winter”.
Last week Covid cases reached 20,331 – the highest numbers since February 2021 – despite Downing Street ending free mass testing in England on April 1.
Not meeting people indoors and mask-wearing in crowded spaces would help prevent the spread of the virus, the health organisation told The Times.
It also said the Government needs to introduce a “public information campaign” in England to ask people to stay away from A&E unless they have an emergency.
The so-called coronavirus dashboard shows cases (and tests performed) decreasing, however hospitalisations and deaths are still rising although both statistics usually lag behind infections.
It is estimated a record one in 13 people currently have coronavirus in England.
Confederation boss Matthew Taylor said: “NHS leaders report a clear disconnect between the Government’s Living with Covid plan and the realities at the NHS front line.
“We have a Government that seems to want to wash its hands of responsibility for what is occurring in plain sight up and down the country.
“No10 has seemingly abandoned any interest in Covid whatsoever.”
It comes after Boris Johnson said he “can’t rule out” another Covid lockdown after previously promising the route to normality was “irreversible” following two years of restrictions.
Mr Johnson’s plan has been for us to learn to live with Covid, and the lack of panic from rising cases appears to be due to reports that the latest strain doesn’t cause any more severe illness.
Scotland’s mask mandate will end April 18 as Covid tests for the general public are set to be phased out in April.
From April 18, free rapid lateral flow tests will be unavailable.
People with symptoms can book PCR tests until April 30 after which test sites will close and the advice will be for Scots to stay home if they feel ill.
Free Covid tests have now ended for the majority of people in England.
Only the vulnerable, including those with health conditions and high-risk jobs, will be eligible to pick up swabs without paying.
Health bosses still say that vaccines are the best line of defence and spring booster jabs are being rolled out for certain groups.
Don’t miss the latest news from around Scotland and beyond – sign up to our daily newsletter here .