• Basic measures against COVID-19 will likely still be needed for the next several years, a U.K. epidemiologist predicts
  • Dr. Mary Ramsay said face masks and social distancing may remain until other countries have vaccinated their population
  • The U.K. has witnessed 4.2 million COVID-19 cases and over 126,000 deaths

Despite countries ramping up COVID-19 vaccinations, a U.K. epidemiologist has predicted that wearing face masks and social distancing will likely continue for several more years.

Mary Ramsay, Public Health England's head of immunization, said basic measures will likely remain until other countries have vaccinated their population, BBC reported.

Ramsay noted that safety measures such as face coverings and social distancing have allowed the economy to function for the past year and that these practices have been accepted by most.

"People have got used to those lower-level restrictions now, and people can live with them, and the economy can still go on with those less severe restrictions in place," the epidemiologist explained.

"So I think certainly for a few years, at least until other parts of the world are as well vaccinated as we are, and the numbers have come down everywhere, that is when we may be able to go very gradually back to a more normal situation," she added.

The doctor emphasized the need for everyone to not let their guard down just yet. Ramsay said it is "very important that we do not relax too quickly" since any circulating virus is still likely to infect those who are vulnerable. Thus, she warned that "we have to look very carefully before any of these restrictions are lifted."

Other health professionals have also shared their predictions on how the pandemic will play out in the months and possibly even years to come. One of them is Chris Whitty, the U.K. government's chief medical advisor.

Earlier this month, Whitty said "simple interventions like washing hands, face masks where appropriate, test-and-trace, and above all vaccines" would keep the virus controlled beyond the summer.

Sir Patrick Vallance shares the two doctor's opinions. The U.K.'s chief scientific adviser stated that face masks will still be needed if the number of COVID-19 cases rises in the winter season.

Limits on social contact in England are set to be removed by June 21, per the government's roadmap for easing restrictions. In Scotland, communal worship resumes on March 26, and in Northern Ireland, six people from two households can meet in private gardens beginning April 1.

There have been at least 4.2 million COVID-19 cases in the U.K., according to Public Health England. As of Monday, 126,155 people had died.

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