Stricter Covid measures are to be brought back in Cornwall's hospitals from next week, after what has been described as a "significant increase" in cases and admissions.

As a result, the use of face masks is being reintroduced, including at the Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust (RCHT).

All patients – including out-patients – visitors and employees at its main hospitals in Truro, Penzance and Hayle, as well as community hospitals, minor injury units and treatment centres across the Duchy, are being asked to wear face masks once again from Monday, July 4.

The trust said that as new sub-variants (BA.4 and BA.5) have driven rising cases and hospital admissions both locally and across the UK, there have been steady increases in the number of healthcare staff testing positive, adding to additional strain on resources.

Kim O’Keeffe, dual chief nurse for Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust and Cornwall Foundation Partnership Trust, said: “It’s important we keep a close eye on transmission rates and review and reintroduce measures when needed.

"Recently, we’ve seen a rise in cases again and it’s crucial we use the tools at our disposal to help protect not only our patients, but visitors and our colleagues too.

“Making mask wearing a requirement once again for staff is a decision we’ve taken at a time when we were already under sustained system pressure. So, to help ensure we can keep vital services running over the coming weeks and months, we are also encouraging visitors and all patients to wear a mask when visiting our sites.

"We’d also ask that people be kind to staff, who’ve been working incredibly hard to protect patients throughout the pandemic.”

Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust’s (CFT) and RCHT’s current policy on visiting arrangements remains unchanged. Staff, patients, and visitors are still asked to continue to wash hands frequently with soap and water and use the alcohol gel provided, in addition to wearing face masks.

Both hospital trusts intend to keep face mask wearing under review, alongside other Covid-19 measures such as visiting restrictions and social distancing requirements.