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Public urged to wear face masks as current NHS situation ‘much worse’ than Covid peak

People are encouraged to wear face masks if they are not feeling well, in new guidance designed to prevent the spread of the flu. Health officials are concerned that rising levels of influenza, Covid and Strep A could overwhelm hospitals, especially due to ongoing staff shortages and NHS strikes.

There have already been warnings that some patients have to wait four days in emergency and emergency rooms (A&E).

Professor Susan Hopkins, chief medical adviser for the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), said guidance was issued this week for children returning to school telling parents to keep their children at home if they are not feeling well.

She said: “If your child is unwell and has a fever, he should stay at home, not go to school or kindergarten, until he feels better and the fever has subsided.

“Adults should also try to stay at home when they are not feeling well, and if you have to go outside, wear a face mask.”

It comes after NHS leaders warned that the health service is facing a “tweendemia” with increased flu and Covid hospitalizations affecting staff absences.

According to the latest data, the number of patients hospitalized due to influenza has increased seven-fold over the past month.

On Monday, a senior medic warned that the current situation in the emergency room was “unbearable” and “worse than ever.”

Speaking to Sky News, Dr. Tim Cooksley, president of the Society for Emergency Medicine, said the situation is worse than the stress the NHS found itself under during the Covid pandemic.

READ MORE: Influenza hospitalizations up 7 TIMES in a week

He said: “This situation is far worse than what we experienced during the Covid pandemic at its peak.”

Dr Cooksley added that “urgent action” was needed to manage the situation.

This comes as more than a dozen NHS trusts and ambulance services have announced critical incidents over the holiday period.

The Health Board of Betsy Cadwaladr University, which covers the counties of North Wales, announced a critical incident on Monday.

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The decision was made after he was overwhelmed with people in need of emergency care.

Meanwhile, Dr Ian Higginson, vice president of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine (RCEM), warned that patients were waiting four days in the emergency room – a situation he called “dire”.

He said: “We hear about patients who are in our emergency departments waiting up to four days to be seen. It used to be four hours.”

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