Coronavirus: Scottish GPs still waiting for face masks

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A GP has said many practices in Scotland are still waiting for supplies of face masks to cope with potential cases of Covid-19.

Dr Andrew Buist, who chairs the BMA’s Scottish general practice committee, said the masks to protect staff from the spread of coronavirus were promised three weeks ago.

There have been no confirmed cases of coronavirus in Scotland so far.

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said the country was “well-prepared”.

She said the chief medical officer had advised that it was highly likely the virus would spread to Scotland.

Following an increase in cases in northern Italy, the disease has been spreading to other European countries.

Disease exposure

Dr Buist said he was not personally worried about exposure to the virus, and said he accepted it as one of the risks of working as a doctor.

But he said the health authorities had to ensure appropriate precautions were taken.

“There are things that we can do and it has been advised that we wear face masks,” he said.

“It’s frustrating when we haven’t been provided with them after they were promised over three weeks ago.”

Dr Buist said hospital departments were likely to be well-supplied with equipment such as masks but staff at GP surgeries might well be the first to come into contact with infected patients.

He added: “Because general practice is very much in the front line of this, we need to ensure that we have the protective equipment supplied to general practices as well.”

A Scottish government resilience meeting was held on Tuesday to review preparations for an outbreak of Covid-19.

Afterwards, Ms Freeman said: “Scotland is well-prepared for a significant outbreak of coronavirus, but there is currently no treatment or vaccine.

“Therefore, preventing the spread of any outbreak will be vital, and the Scottish government is working closely with NHS Scotland and Health Protection Scotland to ensure this.”

BBC News

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