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Masks in the workplace, mass testing and mutations: DR ELLIE CANNON answers your questions

Will masks soon be compulsory in the workplace?

France has said it will become compulsory for its workers to wear masks in all indoor, open work areas – including open-plan offices, meeting rooms, workshops, corridors and kitchens – from September.

Yet Health Secretary Matt Hancock insisted UK offices would not be subjected to the same rules.

His justification was evidence from the NHS Test and Trace service suggesting few people have caught coronavirus in the workplace.

But according to health officials in France, where numbers of infections are rising, almost a quarter of new clusters of Covid-19 cases have been linked to workplaces.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock insists masks won’t be required in offices as evidence from the NHS Test and Trace service suggests few people have caught coronavirus in the workplace

So who is right?

According to microbiologist Professor Paul Hunter at the University of East Anglia, the UK may see a rise in the number of cases in offices – we just haven’t had as many workers return to work, yet.

Yet Prof Keith Neal, emeritus professor of the epidemiology of infectious diseases at the University of Nottingham, says even when more do return to offices, the risk of transmission is probably low, given the social distancing and hygiene measures now enforced.

But he adds: ‘Working from home minimises your and your family’s risk from Covid-19. If you can work from home without any detriment then carry on doing so.’

I’ve heard they are starting mass Covid testing – should I get a test even if I don’t feel ill?

There are two mass testing programmes in the UK for those not in hospital or another healthcare setting.

The first tests people who have one of the three main symptoms of Covid-19 – a high temperature, new, continuous cough, or a loss or change to their sense of smell or taste.

You can book at a nearby testing centre, or order a home testing kit on the Government website. The result helps people find out whether they do have coronavirus, and should continue to self-isolate, or if it is safe for them to stop.

The second programme is the Office for National Statistics’ Infection Survey.

This involves testing randomly selected households – even people without symptoms – to pick up those unknowingly carrying the virus, as well as people with symptoms.

There are two mass testing programmes in the UK for those not in hospital or another healthcare setting - one for those who have one of the three main symptoms and the other through the Office for National Statistics' Infection Survy

There are two mass testing programmes in the UK for those not in hospital or another healthcare setting – one for those who have one of the three main symptoms and the other through the Office for National Statistics’ Infection Survy

The survey, which is open only to those selected by the Government, currently tests 28,000 people a fortnight in England.

Last week, it was announced that this number will increase to 150,000 people by October.

About 20 per cent of participants will also provide a blood sample, to help assess what proportion of the population has developed antibodies to Covid-19.

Outside of the survey, people who do not have Covid-19 symptoms do not need to be tested.

Has coronavirus mutated and become less deadly?

Last week, Singaporean scientist Paul Tambyah, suggested that Covid-19 may have mutated into a less lethal version, which could explain a fall in death rates in parts of the world.

The mutation, called D614G, was discovered in February and evidence suggests it is common in Europe, North America and parts of Asia.

But experts say there isn’t enough evidence to prove that the mutation is behind the fall in death rates.

Prof Hunter says that a fall in the death rate is likely to be down to a number of other factors.

The disease is now spreading more in young people, who are less likely to die. Also, more testing for people outside of hospitals has brought about a increase in the number of cases recorded that are mild.

The decline may also be down to better treatment for Covid-19 patients. Prof Hunter says: ‘As with all epidemics, as doctors’ experience at managing the disease increases, they become better at keeping patients alive.’

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk