Manx Care is re-introducing mask wearing in patient-facing clinical areas at both Noble’s Hospital and Ramsey and District Cottage Hospital.

This is being done as a precautionary measure after a recent rise in the admission of Covid-positive patients.

This is for Manx Care employees working in patient-facing settings and members of the public visiting people in hospital.

People attending appointments may choose to wear a facemask if they wish, and these will be supplied at the entrance to each hospital, as well as on wards and other clinical areas.

Manx Care employees who are either district nurses or those who work in the community will be wearing masks when in direct contact with patients.

Members of the public visiting a friend or relative in a residential care home operated by Manx Care will also be asked to wear facemasks, although this will not be mandatory for residents.

A spokesperson for Manx Care said: 'The new Covid-19 variant that is currently circulating is more transmissible than previous variants, and for most people is a very mild infection.

'Manx Care is taking this step as a precautionary measure given the recent increase in Covid-positive patients alongside an increase in employee absence as a result of the virus.

'In recent days, Manx Care has seen an increase in the number of people being admitted to hospital requiring treatment specifically for Covid-19 infection, as well as some admitted for other reasons but who also happen to be Covid-positive.'

Paul Moore, Manx Care’s deputy chief executive and executive director of nursing and governance, commented: “I appreciate that we are in the very early stages of a potential new wave and we expect to see an increase in Covid-19 infection levels as a result of children having gone back to school and recent poor weather.

'This is a precautionary step given the recent increase in hospital admissions as a result of Covid, current levels of demand for care as well as an increase in colleague sickness due to Covid. We want to minimise risk and protect our organisational resilience as far as possible.

'These are tried and tested infection prevention and control procedures. I appreciate wearing a mask is difficult for some people, but it is important we act quickly and proactively.

'We will continue to monitor this over the coming days and revise our guidance accordingly in line with further developments.

'I want to take this opportunity to encourage people to have their Covid-19 booster vaccination when they are invited to do so following the launch earlier this week of the Autumn programme.'