Public health expert warns of Covid-19 infection risk with more friends meeting indoors as Scotland's weather starts to change

As Scotland's weather starts to change, more of us will be choosing to meet indoors with family and friends.

The colder and wetter days will mean a transition from parks and beer gardens to friends' houses and pubs with social distancing remaining in place.

The current Scottish Government advice is that a maximum of eight people, from up to three different households, can meet indoors as long as physical distancing of two metres is maintained and people are careful to clean surfaces and regularly wash their hands.

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Professor of public health at Edinburgh University, Linda Bauld, says more people meeting indoors can mean increased proximity and duration of exposure to the virus. She said: "It absolutely increases the risk, there's no doubt about it."

Professor Linda Bauld has provided advice about how to minimise infection risk as more of us meet up indoors when the weather starts to change. Pic: Shutterstock/oneinchpunch
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However, professor Bauld also stressed that community transmission rates are still low just now in Scotland.

Specific advice

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Her advice is for friends and family to try and keep numbers indoors to a minimum, to think about the layout of the sitting room or dining area concerned and whether people from different households are able to sit in a socially distanced way - especially if it's eight people in a small property.

Touching the same surfaces is another risk and prof Bauld advises to keep cleaning door handles and worktops and avoid sharing cups, plates and utensils. Washing your hands upon entering someone's house and when you get back home is also advised.

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Ventilation is also important because the virus is airborne so keeping windows open is advisable, even in the colder months – and it might require wearing more layers.

Prof Bauld acknowledges that human behaviour dictates being closer to friends and family which will make sticking to the guidance trickier in these settings.

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She continued: "We are now allowed to be in indoor environments we have not been in. It takes a long time for humans to fundamentally change so our natural instinct is to be closer to other people.

"I think it's difficult for us to constantly think about what we should not do when we have a meal or a glass of wine. For teenagers and young adults it will be really tough as well."

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As well as homes, prof Bauld is also reminding the public that sharing cars with people from different households should be avoided.

If this does happen, face coverings should be worn and people should try and sit side by side rather than face to face and open windows for ventilation. Wiping surfaces like door handles in between journeys is also advised.

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Increased use of public transport during the autumn and winter months as the weather changes will also add to the infection risk.

Covid-19 in Scotland

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During Tuesday’s daily briefing, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said 52 more people had tested positive for Covid-19 in the past 24 hours - 1.2 percent of newly tested individuals - with 27 of these in the NHS Grampian area and 13 in NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde.

A total of 165 cases are associated with the Aberdeen pubs cluster but the rate of increases appears to be slowing.

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A trend of no new deaths from the virus in Scotland continues.

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