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New rule requiring medical grade face masks ‘being actively explored’ in Scotland – Evening Express

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Scotland could follow Germany’s lead in requiring people to wear medical grade face masks to help halt the spread of new mutated strains of coronavirus, John Swinney has said.

The deputy first minister said the action is “being actively explored” by the Scottish Government after Germany became the first country in Europe to require their use by individuals in shops or using public transport.

Speaking on the Sunday Politics Scotland programme, Mr Swinney said the issue was “being looked at” in Scotland and some public authorities have already started to apply such measures.

John Swinney on BBC Politics Scotland

“We’ve got to make sure that we take the most effective measures to suppress the virus, to be advised about the clinical value of particular steps to take,” he said.

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“The question that you raise about the higher-grade face covering is one that’s being actively explored within government today.”

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Social distancing signage and people wearing masks, Union Street, Dundee,.

‘Progress is clearly being made’

The deputy first minister said the range of measures already in place had been successful in reducing transmission of the virus, a reduction of around a third in the two weeks since the “very alarming acceleration” which took place at Christmas.

Mr Swinney stressed that “progress is clearly being made in reducing the spread of the virus”, adding that “the lockdown measures and the willing compliance of members of the public is helping to improve the situation”.

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But he warned hospitals are under “enormous pressure” with a “significant” number of patients, and officials will continue to look at what else might be possible to help build on the reduction in transmission.

People wear masks on the streets of Perth during the coronavirus pandemic.

He added: “I think it would be foolish of me to say that there may not be a necessity at some stage in the future for us to take further measures. We don’t want to do that. If we all follow the rules that we’ve got in place just now, we should be able to avoid that.”

A total of 1,195 new cases of coronavirus were confirmed in Scotland moving into Sunday, according to the latest figures.

Scotland’s Education Secretary John Swinney, wearing a face mask, arrives in the chamber to update MSPs.

One further death of a person who had tested positive was reported, though low numbers are expected at weekends due to register offices being closed.

The total number of deaths under the daily measurement stands at 5,705. Of the cases reported on Sunday the test positivity rate stood at 7.4%.

The Scottish Government said 404,038 people have now received their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine, up by 23,371 from the previous day. A total of 5,383 people have had their second dose.

95% of care home residents vaccinated

Asked about the coronavirus vaccine rollout on the BBC’s Andrew Marr show on Sunday, Nicola Sturgeon said: “We took a deliberate decision in line with Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) advice to focus initially on vaccinating older residents of care homes.”

The first minister confirmed around 95% of care home residents in Scotland have now been vaccinated.

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Ms Sturgeon said this approach was more “resource intensive” and Scotland was now “rapidly catching up” on vaccinating over-80s in the community.

She added: “We’re all working to the same targets, overall I think we will see that we all are making good progress through this vaccination programme.”

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