Experts are warning Britons to wear masks on public transport as the COVID variant Arcturus spreads. Despite milder symptoms and eased restrictions, COVID-19 remains a threat.


A s the COVID variant Arcturus, XBB.1.16, continues to spread and now makes up 1 in 40 new cases, experts are urging Britons to wear face masks on public transport once again. This is due to fears that the variant may soon become dominant and trigger a fresh wave of disease.

Ministers have been called upon to offer booster vaccines to millions more Brits due to the variant’s spread.

Virologists have warned that COVID-19 still poses a threat, even though the virus is milder and the UK no longer has heavy pandemic restrictions in place.

Professor Stephen Griffin, chair of Independent SAGE, has urged people to still test wherever necessary and for employers and the Government to support people when they are unwell and need to self-isolate.

Number of Arcturus cases in the UK, including 96 cases in England and the highest rates in London (31). | CREDIT: UKHSA

Professor Griffin has also encouraged adults to wear a well-fitted N95 mask or high-quality mask when in poorly ventilated indoor spaces or public transport.

He said:

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“This may seem like a throwback to last year, but the reality is the virus continues to do harm and those least able to cope continue to suffer.

“In the absence of population-scale mitigations... the focus remains upon individual risk which is, for many, now much lower.

“However, the situation remains dynamic with waning immunity and high rates of viral evolution.

“If Government won’t act to enable everyone to ‘live’ with COVID, vulnerable people will continue to require precautions and, ideally, others will act with an appropriate level of altruism.”

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