Covid variants UK
Shoppers walk past a social distancing sign following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease in Chester, UK, August 10, 2020. REUTERS/Phil Noble

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) has cautioned that measures to protect people against Covid-19 must be stepped up in the wake of discovery of the new variant, B.1.1.529.

It has urged members of the public to practice ‘hands, face, space and ventilation’ protection measures which have become less used in the last few months.

RPS director of pharmacy Robbie Turner said that though it was too early to conclude about the transmissibility or resistance of the new variant to current vaccines, quick action should be taken to protect the public.

“Each one of us must take the necessary precautions of wearing a mask in higher risk situations, maintaining social distancing wherever possible, ensuring there’s appropriate ventilation indoors when meeting others and washing our hands regularly.”

Encouraging people to take Covid vaccine, he said, it “is still our best defence against this virus”.

He noted that many community pharmacies are providing vaccination service and remain open for long hours in convenient locations.

Turner said: “We must protect each other and the NHS, which is already working at full capacity and beyond. Face coverings should always be worn in healthcare settings including community pharmacies.”

Professor Andrew Pollard, director of the Oxford Vaccine Group, said existing vaccines should work against the new strain, but a clearer conclusion can be drawn after more research in the coming weeks.

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