Brits told to wear a facemask if they have a COLD - 'Stay home' alert issued

People told to 'stay home' amid fears of soaring levels of flu, Covid and Strep A

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New advice has been issued to stop the spread of flu as people are urged to wear face masks if they feel unwell.

Parents have also been told to keep children off school if they have a fever and are being warned to wash their hands.

Guidance has been issued ahead of pupils returning to school this week as fear that high levels of flu, Covid and Strep A could swamp hospitals.

The latest data shows that the number of patients in hospital with flu has increased seven-fold in a month.

Hospitals fear a surge in flu, Covid and Strep A cases
Hospitals fear a surge in flu, Covid and Strep A cases

Prof Susan Hopkins, the chief medical adviser at the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), said: “If your child is unwell and has a fever, they should stay home from school or nursery until they feel better and the fever has resolved.

“Adults should also try to stay home when unwell and if you do have to go out, wear a face covering.”

The advice on wearing masks comes after a senior doctor said patients were waiting up to four days in A&E to be admitted to hospital.

Dr Ian Higginson, the vice-president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine (RCEM), said the wait at hospitals were “appalling”, adding: “We’re hearing of patients who are in our emergency departments waiting to be admitted now for up to four days. It used to be four hours.”

On Monday, chief medic Dr Tim Cooksley, the president of the Society for Acute Medicine warned that the current situation in accident and emergency departments is “unbearable” and “worse than it has ever been”.

He told Sky News: “This situation is much worse than we experienced under the Covid pandemic at its peak.”

More than a dozen NHS trusts and ambulance services have declared critical incidents over the Christmas period as Dr Cooksley calls for “urgent action” to control the situation.

According to the BBC one 90-year-old woman in Torbay, Devon was waiting more than 30 hours for an ambulance following a fall on New Year’s Eve.

Health chiefs warn parents to keep children off school if they are unwell
Health chiefs warn parents to keep children off school if they are unwell

Her son said that although the hospital is a 10-minute drive away, he had been advised not to transport her himself in case it caused her further injury.

He said he appreciated that there may be patients in more serious conditions than his mother, but added: “A suspected broken hip, I would have thought, is something that would need to be – in someone of her age – seen to sort of sooner rather than later.”

A spokesman for the South Western Ambulance Service apologised for the delay, telling the BBC: “Our ambulance clinicians strive every day to deliver their best care for patients.

“But our performance has not returned to pre-pandemic levels partly due to handover delays at emergency departments.”