Sheffield hospitals reintroduce mandatory mask wearing as Covid-19 cases rise

someone wearing a mask
Patients and visitors are once again being asked to mask up. Credit: PA

Patients, visitors and staff are once again being told to wear face masks at hospitals in Sheffield following a rise in Covid-19 cases.

From today, 5 July, anyone going to sites run by Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust will be asked to wear a face covering.

Trust bosses say both Covid cases in the community and hospital admissions are on the rise.

Medical director Dr Jennifer Hill said: "We have been closely monitoring the Covid situation and, although we are sorry that we have had to take this step again, we believe it is important for us to act given the increase in Covid incidence.

"We ask everyone coming onto our sites to please make sure they wear a mask.

"We are very grateful for the continued public support and will continue to keep the situation under review."

The trust says masks are freely available at entrances and on wards.

The decision comes after figures published on Friday showed that infections in the UK jumped by more than half a million in a week, with the rise likely to be driven by the latest Omicron variants BA.4 and BA.5.

Hospital numbers are also continuing to increase, with early signs of a rise in intensive care admissions among older age groups.

A total of 2.3 million people in private households were estimated to have the virus, up 32% from a week earlier, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The figure is the highest estimate for total infections since late April, but is still some way below the record high of 4.9 million seen at the peak of the Omicron BA.2 wave at the end of March.

On Sunday the head of the UK Health Security Agency said hospital cases were expected to rise further.

But Dame Jenny Harries urged people to "go about their normal lives" but in a "precautionary way".